updated 07:26 am EST, Mon January 27, 2014
Acquisition of UK company increases Google's artificial intelligence efforts
Google is acquiring a company in the United Kingdom working on artificial intelligence, in what is believed to be an "acqui-hire." The London-based Deepmind, which claims it is building "powerful general-purpose learning algorithms" based on "machine learning and systems neuroscience," is said to have been bought for at least $400 million and possibly more than $500 million.
Led by Google CEO Larry Page, the acquisition brings chess prodigy and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis on board, as well as Shane Legg and Mustafa Suelyman, reports Re/code. At least 50 people make up the entire Deepmind team, with the company having secured more than $50 million in funding from the Founders Fund, Horizon Ventures, and Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallinn.
Deepmind primarily works on applying AI to various intelligent systems and other problems, such as a recommendation system for online retailers. Under Google, the company is likely to continue its work on machine learning, something which Google has already made some considerable progress on in recent years.
The acquisition could involve the creation of an ethics board for the use of AI technology at Google, reports The Information, in order to prevent the technology's future abuse. It is also claimed that Google was not the only potential suitor for Deepmind, with Facebook said to have been in high-level acquisition discussions with the company late last year.