Dr. David Silver, 2017 Mensa Foundation Prize winner

Dr. David Silver

The Mensa Foundation was proud to present the inaugural Prize to Dr. David Silver, who led Google’s efforts to develop the first computer program to defeat the world’s best Go players.

Silver was the main programmer on the AlphaGo team at Google DeepMind and its primary developer.

AlphaGo, comprising a complex algorithm and artificial intelligence software, became the first program to defeat a human professional Go player in 2015. The results were published the following year in Nature. Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence due to the enormous complexity of the game. AlphaGo won all three games in a May 2017 tournament against Chinese grandmaster Ke Jie, the world’s top Go player.

The biennial award, which comes with a $10,000 prize this year, recognizes both applied and fundamental discoveries in areas such as brain-related research, creation of tools and mechanisms for advancing such research, or any significant research that leads to an improved understanding of human intelligence, including artificial intelligence. Discoveries must be documented in a major peer-reviewed scientific journal to earn consideration.

The Mensa Foundation Prize, honoring discoveries in intelligence and creativity, is endowed by the estate of Kenneth Douglas Thomson (1934-2013), a longtime Mensa member from California. A Mensan for nearly 50 years, Thomson valued the organization as much as he valued intelligence and learning.