Uber's created its very own lab for researching artificial intelligence

Lynsey Barber
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AI could be applied to Uber's self-driving cars (Source: Getty)

Uber is getting deeper into the artificial intelligence game, creating a dedicated lab staffed with top researchers by acquiring a startup with expertise in the technology.

The 15 staff of Geometric Intelligence will form the basis for the billion dollar startup’s San Francisco Lab, which will research the growing area of AI and machine learning and its applications.

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The on-demand service is interested in a variety of potential uses of AI, from self-driving cars, which Uber started testing over the summer, to its UberEats food delivery service.

Uber is in the business of using technology to move people and things in the real world,” said Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden in a blog post.

“With all of its complexity and uncertainty, negotiating the real world is a high-order intelligence problem. It manifests in myriad ways, from determining an optimal route to computing when your car or UberEats order will arrive to matching riders for UberPool.”

The Uber AI Lab team will employ top researchers and academics from New York-based Geometric. They include chief executive and co-founder Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at NYU and Zoubin Ghahramani, chief science officer and co-founder as well as a professor at the University of Cambridge.

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The terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, many firms are willing to pay a high price for early stage startups with top AI expertise, in a move known as acqui-hiring.

Research from Magister Advisors indicates companies are willing to pay more money for good AI engineers than for chief executives to stay ahead.

A separate report published last week by venture capital firm Atomico identified the UK as the capital of Europe for so-called deep tech, including artificial intelligence.

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