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Google absorbs Oxford Uni boffins in artificial intelligence boost quest

'I'm sorry Larry, I'm afraid I can't do that…'

By Iain Thomson, 24 Oct 2014

Google has hired seven academics from Oxford University and signed partnerships with the engineering and computer science facilities to help it develop its DeepMind artificial intelligence system.

"We are thrilled to welcome these extremely talented machine learning researchers to the Google DeepMind team and are excited about the potential impact of the advances their research will bring," said Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind and VP of engineering at Google.

In January Google splashed out $400m (£250m) for the British DeepMind artificial intelligence project and has been busy recruiting ever since. The main thrust of the research is making visual and speech recognition systems that work without human interventions.

On the language front, Google has now signed up Professor Nando de Freitas, Professor Phil Blunsom, Dr Edward Grefenstette, and Dr Karl Moritz Hermann, who cofounded Dark Blue Labs, to investigate the best systems for speech processing by computer.

Three other Oxford academics – Dr Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Professor Andrew Zisserman – also formed their own company, Vision Factory, to work on computer systems that can recognize objects and human faces. Google has secured their services too, although all will stay at Oxford for the time being.

Google chiefly wants a working AI system to communicate with netizens. The firm has poured billions into research, has made voice recognition a key part of its Android platform and is increasingly porting it to the desktop. ®

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