Google has confirmed the purchase of UK Artificial Intelligence company, DeepMind, for a reported £400 million ($650 million). Although further information about the purchase has not been forthcoming it’s believed the DeepMind team will be working alongside Google search.
Google has confirmed the purchase but has not released a statement as to its motivations for buying the company nor its intentions moving forwards. DeepMind founder and owner, Demis Hassabis released the following in a statement about it:
“We’re really excited to be joining Google. This partnership will allow us to turbo-charge our mission to harness the power of machine learning tools to tackle some of society’s toughest problems, and help make our everyday lives more productive and enjoyable.
“We’ve built a world-leading team here in the UK and we’re looking forward to accelerating the impact of our technology with Google.”
So far reports have indicated that it was Google’s Chief Exec Larry Page himself who was responsible for brokering the deal. According to Forbes magazine this was following a failed attempt by Google to purchase the company in 2012.
Google’s search arm of its business has been re-named internally as ‘The Knowledge’, to reflect its changing model as moving away from simply being about keywords but instead towards an intelligent system utilising much larger concepts. As a result it’s believed that DeepMind will sit alongside this team and help assist in its endeavours to increase user experience through new and ever-more complex ways. The Knowledge is led by Google Senior Vice President Alan Eustace however DeepMind will work under Jeff Dean, who has been with Google the last 15 years.
Although DeepMind’s website is sparse, they describe themselves as:
“…a cutting edge artificial intelligence company. We combine the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms.
“Founded by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman, the company is based in London and supported by some of the most iconic technology entrepreneurs and investors of the past decade.
“Our first commercial applications are in simulations, e-commerce and games.”
At only 37 years old, co-founder Hassabis was already something of an overachiever – he was a world-class chess player in his teens and completed his A-Levels two years early. After graduating from Cambridge University with a double first in Computer Science Tripos he began a career in computer games, before working as a neuroscientist in academia. His move back to computer technology included the inception of DeepMind in 2012.
Supposedly Hassabis has stipulated certain criteria that Google must abide by when using the technology that he has helped to create – specifically, that they don’t abuse it. The purchase is in line with others Google have made in recent months, including AI company Nest.