Oxford spin-offs Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory will now join Google's DeepMind project

Google acquires Oxford AI start-ups for DeepMind project

Google has hired the founders of two Oxford University AI start-ups and announced a partnership with the institution to further develop its DeepMind system.

The US technology giant bought out British AI firm DeepMind Technologies in January and it has now employed the seven academics who found Oxford spin-offs Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory to join the team to boost research into natural language comprehension and image recognition.

As part of the deal Google DeepMind will establish a research partnership with Oxford’s computer science and engineering departments, which will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops.

“It is a really exciting time for Artificial Intelligence research these days, and progress is being made on many fronts including image recognition and natural language understanding,” Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind and vice president of engineering at Google, said in a blog post.

“Today we are delighted to announce a partnership with Oxford University to accelerate Google’s research efforts in these areas.”

The Dark Blue Labs team includes professors Nando de Freitas and Phil Blunsom, Dr Edward Grefenstette and Dr Karl Moritz Hermann. They will be responsible for spearheading DeepMinds efforts to use deep learning to improve machines understanding of natural language.

Dr Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Fellow of the Royal Society Professor Andrew Zisserman, who co-founded Vision Factory, are focused on improving visual recognition systems using deep learning.

The three professors will hold joint appointments at Oxford University where they will continue to spend part of their time.

“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 Hassabis.

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