Google, Oxford University partner in artificial intelligence research


Following Google’s acquisition of the secretive firm DeepMind, the tech giant has teamed up with Oxford University to research artificial intelligence.

Revealed by Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind and vice president of engineering at Google, the executive writes on the Google Europe Blog that the partnership will accelerate the firm’s understanding of artificial intelligence, specifically within the image recognition and natural language fields.

Google acquired UK-based firm DeepMind in January this year. Little is known about the company aside from its specialization in algorithms and machine-based learning protocols for e-commerce software, simulations and games, but reports claim the firm was purchased for $400 million.

The belief is that by partnering with Oxford University, a red-brick institution and one of Britain’s top universities, research will be advanced at a quicker pace than relying purely on the DeepMind team.


Google’s DeepMind will be working with two of Oxford’s artificial intelligence teams. Professors Nando de Freitas and Phil Blunsom, as well as Dr Edward Grefenstette and Dr Karl Moritz Hermann, joined up last year to co-found Dark Blue Labs and are experts in “the use of deep learning for natural language understanding.” The specialists will be focusing on “enabling machines to better understand what users are saying to them.”

Dr Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Prof Andrew Zisserman, the co-founders of Vision Factory, will focus on improving visual recognition systems using deep learning.

Google has hired all seven founders of these startups. The three professors all hold places at Oxford University, where they will continue to work. As part of the collaborative effort, the tech giant will make a “substantial” donation to establish a research partnership with the Computer Science Department and the Engineering Department at Oxford University, including student internships, joint lectures and workshops. Hassabis commented:

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.


Courtesy ZDNET