Google has just made an acquisition that is somewhat both puzzling and, on further analysis, feels quite natural. It has just bought DeepMind, a startup that focuses on artificial intelligence, for a rumored but unconfirmed amount of $400 million.
The London-based startup is just three years old, according to LinkedIn, and the company hasn’t really made headlines in the tech industry. It’s roster, however, includes some impressive names such as Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis. The latter is considered to be a genius, a progidy in chess, and one of the best mind games player of late.
DeepMind’s profile says it specializes in artificial intelligence for simulations, e-commerce, and games. At first glance, it might not make sense for a company more known for search, ads, and Android, but a closer analysis of Google’s products and sometimes strange projects reveals that it could be a close fit.
Google has lately been making acquisitions and hires that reveal the company’s new bent towards even smarter machines. Under Andy Rubin’s guidance, the company has been reported to have bought several companies and startups related to robotics and it isn’t hard to imagine Rubin’s team needing a bit of brains for those. And last December, Google was also reported to have hired a former Microsoft employee to work on machine learning.
A more down to earth application of artificial intelligence would actually be for Google Now. Google has been steadily selling Google Now as the personal assistant of choice that is able to predict what you want or need before you even ask it. Google and Apple are believed to be taking their rivalry to virtual personal assistants, and a dash of machine learning and artificial intelligence might go a long way in gaining the upper hand.