Last year, Facebook was said to be in talks with artificial intelligence start-up DeepMind. Well it seems that Google has pulled a fast one on tis competitor and acquired the artificial intelligence startup.
Making it its newest acquisition and the largest yet in Europe, Google is reported to have acquired the artificial intelligence startup based in London for roughly £300m ($500m).
The acquisition was reportedly led by Google’s CEO Larry Page.
The company was founded by 37-year-old Demis Hassabis, a London-born teenage chess prodigy who went on to programme popular simulation games such as Theme Park. He left gaming to study for a PhD in neuroscience at University College London and published research on amnesia before founding DeepMind in 2012. Other founders include Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin, and researcher Shane Legg.
The company creates algorithms that allow programmes and systems to learn from experience and DeepMind’s website says its initial commercial applications are in simulations, e-commerce and games.
DeepMind, which caused a buzz last year when it presented to an influential group of tech entrepreneurs and investors at the Founders Forum event in New York, says on its website that it aims to “combine the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms”.
If all three of DeepMind’s founders work for Google, they will join inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who was hired in 2012 as a director of engineering focused on machine learning and language processing.
Kurzweil has said that he wants to build a search engine so advanced that it could act like a “cybernetic friend.”
According to Companies House records, DeepMind counts among its directors Bart Swanson, formerly of dating app Badoo and now an investor at Horizons Ventures, and Luke Nosek, a PayPal co-founder who formed Founder’s Fund with Mr Thiel.
The acquisition is Google’s latest attempt to bolster its robotics expertise. The internet company has moved increasingly into machine-based projects such as self-driving cars in recent years and last month bought military robot company Boston Dynamics.
Earlier this month, Google paid $3.2bn to buy Nest Labs, which makes “smart home” devices, its largest-ever purchase of a private company.
Other Silicon Valley companies are also pursuing artificial intelligence technology.