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January 27, 2014

Google Buys DeepMind for Artificial Intelligence Tech

Nicole Hemsoth

Google has reportedly bought the London-based artificial intelligence (AI) company DeepMind Technologies for $400 million. The acquisition nets the Web giant a collection of advanced machine-learning algorithms. But the bigger get for Google may be the developers who created them.

DeepMind was founded in 2011 by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman to push the state of the art in the field of AI. According to the company’s website, DeepMind combines machine learning and systems neuroscience in pursuit of general-purpose learning algorithms. The firm’s first applications were in simulations, e-commerce, and games.

One of DeepMind’s brilliant developers is 37-year-old Hassabis, who was a child chess prodigy and is currently involved with game design, AI programming, and neuroscience, according to his Wikipedia entry.

With 50 employees, DeepMind was reportedly one of the AI research pureplays in the world. The company is said to have competed for talent with the likes of Google and other big Web companies. Facebook tried to buy DeepMind before Google’s Larry Page personally succeeded in closing the deal, according to The Guardian.

Nothing to see here, move along

The DeepMind acquisition, which tech news website re/code confirmed with Google and first reported Sunday, ads another element to Google’s collection of products and services aimed at understanding and interacting with humans. Just two weeks ago, the company spent $3.2 billion for Nest, which manufactures so-called “smart” thermostats that can learn what temperature people prefer. Last month it bought Boston Dynamics, which makes military robotics.

The DeepMind technology is expected to be used in Google’s search division, not in the robotics division, which is developing the self-driving car. 

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