Google invests in artificial intelligence

By Danielle Middleton topicIcon Internet News

Google buys UK start-up Deep Mind

Google Corporation has expanded its holdings once more, making its largest European acquisition to date.

The web giant has reportedly invested $400m (£242.35m) in Deep Mind, an artificial intelligence start-up in an effort to further the company's focus on deep learning, in a purchase led by Google CEO Larry Page. Yahoo recently made a similar acquisition, in the purchase of photo analysis start-up Look Flow which will lead the web firm's deep learning programme.

What is deep learning?

Deep learning is a process developed to mimic the brain with digital neural networks within machines. This would bring humans and computers closer together as machines become able to learn independently. Competition between tech companies is fierce as each strives to make artificial intelligence a reality; speech recognition systems such as Siri and Bing's voice search, are examples of deep learning that are already integrated into our lives.

Ray Kurzweil, chief engineer at Google told MIT Technology Review of his visions of a cybernetic friend that observes phone conversations, emails and knows your every move. This "friend" would be based on the billions of dollars worth of research currently being invested in deep learning, building an intelligent computer that is capable of making its own decisions, and even learning a natural language.

Why has Google chosen Deep Mind?

Founded by neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, a former child prodigy in chess, Skype developer Jaan Tallin and researcher Shane Legg, Deep Mind specialises in machine learning for e-commerce and games.

As well as joining other tech firms at the forefront of technological development, Google has long been focussed on this new source of business including developing self-driving cars and robots.

Google has made several large scale moves in the direction of deep learning since 2012, when the corporation took on board futurist, inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil to lead a machine learning and language processing team. While in May last year, Google partnered with NASA to launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab; a project which uses supercomputers and mathematical formulas to further the progress of aeronautical science and space exploration.

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword said: "Google has made a number of high profile purchases lately, all of which have raised a number of questions as to user privacy amongst others that the corporation has yet to answer.

"Deep learning is an immensely interesting area for Google to channel its focus and it is good to see that this technology is a product of the UK."