Google has reportedly spent $400 million to buy a London-based artificial intelligence company called DeepMind. Neither firm offered up more information, but apparently DeepMind's team will work with Google's search team, unnamed sources told Re/code:
Or as search is known at Google today, the “Knowledge” group, so-called because it no longer just finds keywords on Web pages, but instead connects larger concepts. Knowledge is led by Google SVP Alan Eustace, but DeepMind will work closely with a team led by Jeff Dean, a near 15-year Google veteran, best known for his work on distributed systems.
Google had no comment beyond confirming the purchase. In a statement, Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind, shared his excitement about the acquisition.
"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," he said. "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."
Information available on the DeepMind website is light, but suggests it's a growing company. There is an appeal for talented engineers, and a quick look at Linkedin suggests that there is a decent if compact group of people there already.
"DeepMind is a cutting edge artificial intelligence company. We combine the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms. The company is based in London and supported by some of the most iconic technology entrepreneurs and investors of the past decade," offers the firm by way of introduction. "Our first commercial applications are in simulations, e-commerce and games."
Re/code offered a few more tidbits from one of their inside sources about what DeepMind has been working on: “A game with very advanced game AI, a smarter recommendation system for online commerce and something to do with images.”
The New York Times also reported that the deal is intended to improve Google search, specifically the Knowledge Graph:
People who work with Google but could not be named because they were not allowed to speak publicly for the company, said the acquisition of the artificial intelligence software had nothing to do with robots, but everything to do with semantic technology and the ability to understand what people were asking for online and answer in a very human way.