Google Acquired Neural Network Startup, Wants To Develop Smarter Machines

Google acquired DNNresearch, a neural network research startup, on Tuesday after awarding the research team from the University of Toronto $600,000 for its work in language and image processing.

The company was founded by Professor Geoffrey Hinton and two graduate students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever, working in the university’s computer science department. DNNresearch, or deep neural network research, primarily focuses on language processing centers in the brain.

Hinton is well known for his work in neural networks, and his current research will have profound implications in the advancement of speech recognition, computer object detection, and language processing.

Professor David Naylor, the president of the University of Toronto, said,

“Geoffrey Hinton’s research is a magnificent example of disruptive innovation with roots in basic research … The discoveries of brilliant researchers, guided freely by their expertise, curiosity, and intuition, lead eventually to practical applications no one could have imagined, much less requisitioned.”

The University of Toronto said that Srizhevsky and Sutskever developed a system that drastically improved current methods of object recognition — something that made DNNresearch very enticing to Google.

As our global society becomes more technologically connected through mobile devices, image and voice search queries continue to grow and Google’s newest acquisition will help propel it into a new era of search recognition and functionality.

Google has confirmed the acquisition of DNNresearch but hasn’t released any financial data or discussed exactly how it will utilize its new team of researchers.

The only solid data available at this time is that Hinton is being allowed to split his time between university and Google projects. The two graduate students, Krixhevsky and Sutskever, will be focusing on their work at Google full-time.

Sven Dickinson, University of Toronto computer science chairman, said,

“This is a wonderful opportunity for [Geoffrey], and a great opportunity for the department … In recent years, we have been expanding our industrial relations, and this acquisition represents a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our existing ties with Google, one of the world’s most innovative IT companies.”

Google’s acquisition of DNNresearch will support the search giant’s growth in smart search technology. Overall, advances in neural network research will lead to better machine object recognition, language understanding, and speech processing systems.