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MetaMind $8M Launch Aims to Bring Deep Learning Capability to the Masses

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After developing software that helped IBM and Google calibrate their machine-learning tools, MetaMind has been propped up with $8 million in venture capital that will help the company share its deep-learning platform with the rest of the Fortune 500 and beyond.

Khosla Ventures and Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, have fueled MetaMind with $8 million to expand the startup's reach.

MetaMind founder Richard Socher, who just earned a Ph.D. at Stanford, says he was approached with some extremely lucrative offers for his startup. But he wanted to build his company with his own hands, which is why he held out for the investment the company has now received.

Keeping control over MetaMind is enabling Socher and company to share their deep-learning platform with businesses of all sizes, though the startup charges consultation fees for helping organization learn how to effectively leverage it. Deep learning, a branch of articifial intelligence, is the process of training networks of computers to resemble the human brain's capacity to recognize and analyze visual images or text, not with algorithms but by observing data.

"They're doing some amazing work -- Google and Microsoft and Facebook and so on -- and their work is impacting a lot of people," Socher says. "But I felt like there's a lot more potential if you give those tools to the remaining Fortune 500 companies -- or to people on the Internet, just to let them play with them on their own."

MetaMind's deep-learning modules are categorized as Language, Vision and Database. Its database modules can autocomplete missing entries and predict trends or mounting problems by analyzing columns of data.

The language modules can perform human-like text analysis, accomplishing tasks like summarizing a lengthy PDF document and deriving sentiments out of a batch of tweets. The modules can be tweaked to classify documents to determine the relationships between collections of sentences.

MetaMind's General Object Classification module can be calibrated to identify objects with human-like accuracy. There's also a module that's specifically built to recognize food, which has huge implications in app development and the food industry.

"[You] take an image from your cell phone of the food you're about to eat, and [the customer's computer system] automatically knows the food," says Socher.

With the vision module's ability to identify the positions of objects and classify each pixel in an image, MetaMind is also poised to have a huge impact in the medical industry. For example, software powered by MetaMind could pickup on dangerous specks that a human eye might overlook when examining an X-ray.

"The company's deep-learning technology is going to have enormous impact in multiple industries, and has the potential to provide a generalized mathematical model for building machine intelligence that could be adapted for almost any discipline," says Beioff.

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