Google has purchased London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies. The latest move comes after Google went on a buying spree by scooping up robotics firms and smart home gadget maker Nest Labs.
According to its website, DeepMind combines its expertise in systems neuroscience and machine learning to build algorithms for deep learning. It was established by chess prodigy and programmer Demis Hassabis, Mustafa Suleyman, and Shane Legg.
"Google is shelling out $400 million to buy a secretive artificial intelligence company called DeepMind. Google confirmed the deal after Re/code inquired about it, but declined to specify a price," reported Liz Gannes of Re/Code. According to Re/Code's sources, Google chief executive Larry Page led the contingent that made the acquisition possible1.
Other reports say that the search engine company shelled out more than $500 million to buy DeepMind but details are still very limited. The Information also stated that Facebook also tried to buy the AI firm but talks that initiated in 2013, for some reason, was not fruitful.
Reports also reveal that DeepMind has been actively recruiting artificial intelligence experts with its talents comparable to those in the stable of Baidu, Facebook, and Google. The company, which allegedly is working on an intelligent e-commerce recommendations system, is also believed to have secured a $50 million funding.
Early investors of the company include Jaan Tallinn, who developed Kazaa and Skype. Firms such as Founders Fund and Horizons Ventures also injected to boost DeepMind's coffers.
In 2012, Google hired Ray Kurzweil as its engineering director and tasked one of the best minds in the technology world to focus on language process and machine learning. When he was hired, Kurzweil predicted a future where one can talk to machines with the latter knowing what the former wants.
"I've had a consistent date of 2029 for that vision. And that doesn't just mean logical intelligence. It means emotional intelligence, being funny, getting the joke, being sexy, being loving, understanding human emotion. That's actually the most complex thing we do. That is what separates computers and humans today. I believe that gap will close by 2029," Kurzweil told Wired when asked about systems understanding complex natural language.
Robotics and artificial intelligence might be enough to let people picture a Hollywood-like scenario of cyborgs and androids taking over the world but there are reports that Google will form an ethics board to avoid abuse of the technology.