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Brief Published: 28 Jan 2014

Google Buys AI Firm DeepMind

Google buys DeepMind

Google has bought London-based artificial intelligence firm DeepMind. The US tech giant reportedly paid between $300m and $500m for the three-year-old start-up, which specialises in using “machine learning and systems neuroscience” to build algorithms for games and e-commerce systems.

Major tech firms are racing to corner the market on artificial intelligence. In December 2013, social networking giant Facebook recruited New York University professor Yann LeCun to lead its new research laboratory for artificial intelligence, while US tech firm IBM has been intensively developing Watson MD, an artificially intelligent computer system used in medical diagnostics, to prepare it for commercial use in medical centres.

Google has made no secret of its ambitions in this area. In May 2013, it announced the launch of the Quantum Intelligence Lab in partnership with US space agency Nasa, and in December 2013, it bought military robot-maker Boston Dynamics. By acquiring DeepMind, Google has now secured the talent of some of the world’s best artificial intelligence specialists.

Artificial intelligence could deliver major commercial benefits across a number of industries, from self-driving cars to e-commerce recommendation systems. For more on this fast-developing topic, see Fast Future: Human Enhancement and Artificial Intelligence: Man & Machine.