Google buys two Oxford University AI spin-offs to bolster its DeepMind team

The Google-owned artificial intelligence outfit DeepMind has revealed a partnership with Oxford University that involves a “substantial donation” to set up a research relationship with the venerable institution’s computer science and engineering departments, and the acquisition of two Oxford spin-off startups. One, Dark Blue Labs, is working on deep learning techniques for understanding natural language; it was founded earlier this year by professors Nando de Freitas and Phil Blunsom, and doctors Edward Grefenstette and Karl Moritz Hermann. The other, Vision Factory, was founded by Dr Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Prof Andrew Zisserman to work on visual object and text recognition, again using deep learning. According to a Thursday post by DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis, the three professors will continue working part-time at Oxford.