Google acquires AI startup DeepMind for $400 million

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Google is delving deeper into the world of artificial intelligence with the reported acquisition of London-based startup DeepMind Technologies.

According to Re/code, the deal is worth $400 million. The Web giant confirmed it’s moving ahead with the purchase, though refused to offer any details on the value of the deal.

DeepMind’s website, which currently consists solely of a landing page, describes the company as “a cutting edge artificial intelligence company” that combines “the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms.”

Its first commercial applications are in the field of simulations, e-commerce, and games, according to the webpage.

Founded two years ago by AI programmer, neuroscientist, and game designer Demis Hassabis, together with Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman, the company has previously received backing from a number of high-profile tech entrepreneurs and investors, including Founders Fund and Horizons Ventures.

Re/code says the acquisition, apparently led by Google CEO Larry Page, is “in large part an artificial intelligence talent acquisition”, with Hassabis noted for his obvious talent – the 37-year-old programmer reached master standard in chess at the age of 13 and according to Mind Sports Olympiad “is probably the best games player in history.”

It’s not clear at this stage precisely where Google will go with its latest acquisition, but it could be utilized in some way to push forward with its growing interest in robotic technology or one of its other artificial-intelligence-related projects.

On that front, the company in 2012 hired AI expert Ray Kurzweil, while in the same year the company unveiled the ‘Google brain‘, the work of a team of Google and Stanford University scientists. And in May last year it announced a partnership with NASA and a number of universities to launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab to discover ways in which quantum computing can advance machine learning.

[Source: Re/code, Reuters] [Image: agsandrew / Shutterstock]

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