Mustafa Suleyman is best known as one of the co-founders of DeepMind Technologies, an AI research lab acquired by Google in 2014. He has played a significant role in leading DeepMind’s applied division, which focused on real-world applications of AI technology. In addition, he has been involved in various projects to harness AI to solve complex problems across different fields, including healthcare and energy efficiency. Suleyman’s narrative isn’t just a tech talk; it’s a call to action. He wants us to think deeply about technology’s role in our lives and our planet’s future.

On a personal note, Suleyman’s diverse experiences and noble pursuits are a breath of fresh air. Born to a Syrian taxi driver father and an English nurse mother, he was raised alongside two younger brothers in Islington. His journey turned pivotal at 19 when he left Oxford University. This decision led him to help start the Muslim Youth Helpline in 2001, a groundbreaking initiative that evolved into the UK’s leading mental health support service for Muslims.

His commitment to societal improvement didn’t stop there. Suleyman served as a human rights officer for the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, furthering his impact on community welfare. His path then took a strategic turn towards systemic societal change when he established Reos Partners. He harnessed conflict resolution techniques to tackle complex social issues there, advising prestigious clients like the United Nations, the Dutch government, and the World Wide Fund for Nature as a sought-after negotiator and facilitator. Suleyman’s story is one of relentless dedication to fostering understanding and facilitating significant, systemic change.

Through Suleyman’s eyes, we see the promise of AI to combat climate change, revolutionise healthcare, and more. Yet, he’s clear-eyed about the risks, emphasising our excitement must be tempered with careful oversight and ethical consideration.

When I finished reading Suleyman’s book, my mind went to the quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn: ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.’ Mustafa Suleyman’s quote twins nicely, ‘Let’s not just be spectators of this technological wave; let’s be savvy surfers.

His book, “The Coming Wave”, is more than a book; it’s a conversation starter, a blueprint for the future. Here, he urges policymakers, technologists, and everyday folks to come together, debate, and shape the future of technology. It’s about harnessing the power of AI and other breakthroughs in a way that uplifts humanity, ensuring that these advances work for everyone, not just a select few. It is his way of inviting the global community to grapple with the “containment problem”—a term that sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel but is all too real. It’s about keeping the genie of AI in the bottle, ensuring that as we unleash these powerful technologies, they don’t slip beyond our control. 

So, what is the coming wave of technology? Why does it matter? And what should we do next? 

The book delves into how AI promises to address some of the planet’s most daunting challenges, including climate change and health crises. Yet Suleyman remains cautiously optimistic, advocating for a balanced approach that marries innovation with responsibility. The narrative is a sobering reminder that while AI can be a powerful ally in our quest for solutions, unchecked enthusiasm without rigorous planning and ethical oversight could lead us astray.

More than an exploration of technological possibilities, it is an invitation to all—policymakers, technologists, and the general public—to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about the role of technology in our lives. Suleyman envisions a future where technology advances human potential in a controlled, ethical way aligned with our collective well-being.

Suleyman establishes “the containment problem”—maintaining control over powerful technologies—as the essential challenge of our age.

I was very interested to read that Mustafa had executive coaching because of specific issues at Google. His accountability was powerful, and his admission of how coaching helped him was very authentic. As an executive coach specialising in guiding senior tech executives, I find stories like Mustafa’s to be powerful testaments to the efficacy of coaching in navigating the complex challenges inherent in such roles. His willingness to embrace accountability and share his journey adds a valuable layer of authenticity to the narrative around executive development. It’s indeed enlightening to see senior executives openly discuss the benefits of executive coaching. When leaders like Mustafa share their executive coaching experiences, it sheds light on the pressures and challenges at the top levels of large tech companies. It highlights the importance of personal development and accountability. Such transparency can significantly reduce the stigma around seeking help for leadership and personal growth challenges.

When leaders like Mustafa share their executive coaching experiences, it sheds light on the pressures and challenges at the top levels of large tech companies.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, the book emerges as a pivotal discourse on the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI), ethics, and the future of humanity. Suleyman offers an authoritative perspective on the technological revolution unfurling before us, mainly driven by the leaps in AI and other groundbreaking technologies. This book is not merely a glimpse into the future but a clarion call to steer this future towards the greater good. At its core, Suleyman’s message is one of hopeful realism. He doesn’t shy away from the monumental task ahead but remains optimistic that we can navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities with the right approach.

NB Once I finished writing this article, I ran it through Pi, Inflection AI’s personal AI, to improve it.