February 11, 2014

Google buys artificial intelligence startup DeepMind

Google has expanded its foray into artificial intelligence and robotics with its recent purchase of DeepMind technologies, a London-based startup that specializes in machine learning and systems neuroscience. The company confirmed the deal to the website Re/code, but provided no information about the price or any stipulations related to the acquisition. The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reports that the tech giant paid $650 million for the firm. 

DeepMind was founded two years ago by neuroscientist Demis Hassabis. According to the company's website, it develops technology for e-commerce and gaming, and aims to "develop computers that think like humans."

The Google deal was not the first time that DeepMind had been approached with a technology acquisition proposal. In 2012, social media site Facebook made a failed attempt at purchasing the company. 

"DeepMind was generally interested in reinforcement learning, and in deep learning, which is very useful in mining so called 'big data', something Google has a lot of and is interested in processing," said Murray Shanahan a professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London, to the source.

The Guardian also reports that as a part of the deal with DeepMind, Google has established an ethics board to ensure that technology involving artificial intelligence is not abused. Over the past few months, Google has increased its efforts to acquire firms that are at the cutting edge of this technology including the smart alarm company Nest and robotics giant Boston Dynamics. 

The DeepMind acquisition will help Google complete against other major tech companies that are all trying to gain a business advantage by focusing on deep learning. Facebook and Yahoo have both made major purchases related to this new technology sphere.