Friday, January 31, 2014

What Does Google Want with DeepMind? Here are Three Clues (Op-Ed)

Electric brain, ai, artificial intelligence

All eyes turned to London this week, as Google announced its latest acquisition in the form of DeepMind, a company that specialises in artificial intelligence technologies. The £400m pricetag paid by Google and the reported battle with Facebook to win the company over indicate that this is a firm well worth backing.

Although solid information is thin on the ground, you can get an idea of what the purchase might be leading to, if you know where to look.

Clue 1: what does Google already know?

Google has always been active in artificial intelligence and relies on the process for many of its projects. Just consider the “driver” behind its driverless cars, the speech recognition system in Google Glass, or the way its search engine predicts what we might search for after just a couple of keystrokes. Even the page-rank algorithm that started it all falls under the banner of AI.

Acquiring a company such as DeepMind therefore seems like a natural step. The big question is whether Google is motivated by a desire to help develop technologies we already know about or whether it is moving into the development of new technologies.

Given its track record, I’m betting on the latter. Google has the money and the drive to tackle the biggest questions in science, and developing computers that think like humans has, for a long time, been one of the biggest of them all.

Clue 2: what’s in the research?

The headlines this week have described DeepMind as a “secretive start-up”, but clues about what it gets up to at its London base can be gleaned from some of the research publications produced by the company’s co-founder, Demis Hassabis.

For the rest of the story: http://www.livescience.com/43002-what-does-google-want-with-deepmind-here-are-three-clues.html

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