Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has acquired London-based artificial intelligence firm DeepMind Technologies for $625 million, media reports said Monday, as the company sharpens its focus on AI-based technology.
Google’s purchase is reportedly its largest ever in Europe and ties in well with the online search giant’s top-secret [x] labs that works on AI technology including Google Glass and other wearable devices. The Guardian, citing sources close to the deal, reported that DeepMind’s technology would be used in Google's search systems instead of the company’s robotics division.
"DeepMind was generally interested in reinforcement learning, and in deep learning, which is very useful in mining so called 'big data', something Google has a lot of and is interested in processing," Murray Shanahan, a professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, told the Guardian.
According to DeepMind’s website, the company specializes in “machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms.” The company was co-founded by Demis Hassabis, a chess prodigy who went on to become a neuroscientist and AI programmer who designs computer games.
A Google representative confirmed the deal without disclosing details, a report from CNET said, adding that DeepMind’s purchase closely follows the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s efforts to open a new lab with a quantum computer that can be used by researchers around the world for their own work.
Speaking about the company’s efforts to build the world's best personal assistant, Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, reportedly told the Guardian last week:
"We haven't held back because people aren't ready – we have held back because the technology doesn't work yet," adding: "It's very hard to do. But we want it to be the best it can be – with opt in, full permission – to help me get through the day, figure out my questions and suggest questions I should ask people."