Our Blog

Welcoming New PAI Board Members: Rebecca Finlay, Prof. Thore Graepel, and Dr. Prem Natarajan


We are pleased to welcome the addition of three new Directors to the Partnership on AI Board of Directors. By offering their distinct areas of expertise, these new Directors will help the Partnership better deliver on its mission to promote the responsible development of artificial intelligence.

Joining the Board of Directors are Rebecca Finlay, Vice-President, Engagement and Public Policy at CIFAR; Thore Graepel, Research Group Lead at DeepMind and Chair of Machine Learning, University College London; and Prem Natarajan, Vice President at Alexa AI. Thore will replace Mustafa Suleyman’s DeepMind seat on the board. Prem will assume Ralf Herbrich’s previous Amazon seat.

“AI has the potential to create positive social change around the world. Therefore we need to understand and address the possible risks it poses for society. To do so requires building new ways of working together that reach across sectors, borders, disciplines and perspectives,” said Rebecca Finlay. “I look forward to contributing to the Board of the Partnership on AI and supporting its leadership in building an international community from research, policy, civil society and industry to examine AI’s societal implications, supporting innovation that is responsible, equitable and beneficial for people.”

“AI has the potential to be a tremendously powerful and positive technology, but to achieve this, we will need sustained, collaborative and informed discussion around its development and applications,” said Thore Graepel. “I’m proud to be joining the Partnership on AI as a Board member, and supporting their mission to ensure that AI benefits every section of society.”

“We are fortunate to live in a time of new AI-driven possibilities, where science fiction and science reality are converging at a pace we wouldn’t have dared to predict even just a decade ago,” said Prem Natarajan. “As AI becomes more ubiquitous, multi-sector initiatives such as the Partnership on AI are crucial to ensuring its benefits are broadly accessible and that we advance our core societal values hand in hand with the tremendous technological progress we are making.  I am excited by the opportunity to contribute to PAI’s mission.”

We have included the biographies of these new Directors to the Partnership below. We look forwardto their insights and contributions as we collectively write the future of the Partnership.

Rebecca Finlay, Vice President, Engagement & Public Policy

Rebecca founded CIFAR’s global knowledge mobilization practice in 2014, bringing together experts in industry, civil society, healthcare, and government to accelerate the societal impact of CIFAR’s research programs. In 2017, she was responsible for the launch of CIFAR’s AI & Society program to support international working groups on the questions AI poses for all aspects of policy and society. She leads CIFAR’s partnerships with governments in Canada and worldwide.

In 2019, Rebecca was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Prior to joining CIFAR, she held leadership roles in research and civil society organizations as well as the private sector. She holds an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a BA from McGill University.

Prof Thore Graepel, Research Group Lead at DeepMind and Chair of Machine Learning, University College London

Thore Graepel is a research group lead at DeepMind and holds a part-time position as Chair of Machine Learning at University College London. He studied physics at the University of Hamburg, Imperial College London, and Technical University of Berlin, where he also obtained his PhD in machine learning in 2001. He held post-doctoral positions at ETH Zurich and Royal Holloway College, University of London, before joining Microsoft Research in Cambridge in 2003, where he co-founded the Online Services and Advertising group. Major applications of Thore’s work include Xbox Live’s TrueSkill system for ranking and matchmaking, the AdPredictor framework for click-through rate prediction in Bing, and the Matchbox recommender system which inspired the recommendation engine of Xbox Live Marketplace.

Thore’s research interests are in artificial intelligence and machine learning and include probabilistic graphical models, reinforcement learning, game theory, and multi-agent systems. He has published over one hundred peer-reviewed papers, is a named co-inventor on dozens of patents, serves on the editorial boards of JMLR and MLJ, and is a founding editor of the book series Machine Learning & Pattern Recognition at Chapman & Hall/CRC.

At DeepMind, Thore has returned to his original passion of understanding and creating intelligence, and contributed to creating AlphaGo, the first computer program to defeat a human professional player in the full-sized game of Go, a feat previously thought to be at least a decade away. Thore has extensive experience in technical AI research and ethical publication practices and is part of a cross-functional group of DeepMind team members who come together to review research proposals and assess potential downstream impacts.

Dr. Prem Natarajan, Vice President, Alexa AI

Dr. Prem Natarajan is a Vice President in Amazon’s Alexa unit where he leads the Natural Understanding (NU) organization within Alexa AI.  NU is a multidisciplinary science and engineering organization that develops, deploys, and maintains state-of-the-art conversational AI technologies including natural language understanding, intelligent dialog systems, entity linking and resolution, and associated worldwide runtime operations.  Dr. Natarajan joined Amazon from the |the University of Southern California (USC) where he was Senior Vice Dean of Engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering, Executive Director of the Information Sciences Institute (a 300-person R&D organization), and Research Professor of computer science with distinction.  Prior to that, as Executive VP at Raytheon BBN Technologies, he led the speech, language, and multimedia business unit, which included research and development operations, and commercial products for real-time multimedia monitoring, document analysis, and information extraction. During his tenure at USC and at BBN, Dr. Natarajan directed R&D efforts in speech recognition, natural language processing, computer vision, and other applications of machine learning. While at USC, he directly led nationally influential DARPA and IARPA sponsored research efforts in biometrics/face recognition, OCR, NLP, media forensics, and forecasting.  Most recently, he helped to launch the Fairness in AI (FAI) program – a collaborative effort between NSF and Amazon for funding fairness focused research efforts in US Universities.