Google has reportedly closed a deal to acquire a London-based artificial intelligence startup called DeepMind. Google buys things all the time, but this time Mountain View has agreed to pay a huge sum of money for DeepMind. Sources are reporting the deal could have been valued as high as $500 million, or 0.5 Instagrams.
DeepMind is a secretive company, seemingly without any consumer-facing activities. In fact, DeepMind's website is nothing more than a landing page with some contact information and basic facts. The company was founded about three years ago by programmer and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis. DeepMind is said to be working on a number of approaches to AI that could improve existing recommendation systems, which might jive nicely with Google's focus on predictive search in Google Now. DeepMind also has a stake in e-commerce algorithms.
As part of the deal, Google is reportedly setting up an ethics board to ensure its artificial intelligence technologies aren't misused – you can still make Skynet jokes if you want, though. With this acquisition, Google has scooped up one of the last formidable independent AI startups. DeepMind was also being courted by Facebook and Baidu, which might partially explain the high price tag.