Google teams up with Oxford University in an effort to push forward its exploration on artificial intelligence. This comes after Google's January purchase of the secretive AI firm DeepMind.
The partnership involves the acqui-hire of seven of the red-brick university's most prominent AI researchers. Department of Computer Science professors Nando de Freitas and Phil Blunsom as well as Edward Grefenstette and Karl Moritz will be joining Google DeepMind to head the company's efforts to "enable machines to better understand what users are saying to them." This is according to Google vice president of engineering Demis Hassabis, also co-founder of DeepMind. All four experts are also the founders of Dark Blue Labs and specialize in the "use of deep learning for natural language understanding."
Also to become part of the DeepMind team are Department of Engineering Science researchers Karen Simonyan and Max Jaderberg, and Professor Andrew Zisserman, a computer vision systems expert and the only person to have received the Marr Prize in computer vision three times. Zisserman and Simonyan were also the brains behind one of the winning image understanding systems judged at this year's ImageNet competition, the most prestigious image recognition competition in the world. The three-person team co-founded Vision Factory, with the aim of using deep learning to improve visual recognition systems.
"It is exciting to be continuing to pursue the horizon of artificial intelligence at Google DeepMind," says Jaderberg in a statement. "Our team's ambitions were to really take computer vision technology further, and working with Google DeepMind is the ideal platform to continue in this direction."
Google has hired all seven experts, and the three professors will be allowed to maintain part-time teaching status at Oxford. To cement the partnership, Google will also donate a "significant seven-figure contribution" to the university to finance further research. The company also plans to institute an internship program and lectures and workshops to expand AI knowledge.
"We are thrilled to welcome these extremely talented machine learning researchers to the Google DeepMind team and are excited about the potential impact of the advances their research will bring," writes Hassabis in a blog post.
The Mountain View-based Internet company is looking to expand its AI capabilities to maintain its Internet dominance and build new technologies equipped with human-like intelligence, such as robots and self-driving cars ready for testing on the public roads. In January this year, Google laid down $400 million to purchase DeepMind, which specializes in using neuroscience and machine learning to develop "powerful general purpose learning algorithms."