Google snaps up UK artificial intelligence company DeepMind for $400m

Google has agreed to buy London-based artificial intelligence (AI) company DeepMind for a reported $400m (£242m).

The price was first reported by technology news website Re/code. The deal represents Google's largest European acquisition.

DeepMind was founded in 2012 by 37-year-old chess prodigy and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, along with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman.

The AI company specialises in using general-purpose learning algorithms for e-commerce and games. Google's latest acquisition complements its hiring of noted futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil.

The tech giant has been expanding its research and development of AI through self-driving cars and robots. In May, Google announced a partnership with NASA as well as several universities to launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QALL).

QALL is aimed at using supercomputers and mathematical formulas to improve aeronautical science and space exploration.

DeepMind may not be the most famous of the world's tech companies but sources told Re/code that DeepMind has a team of at least 50 people and has secured more than $50m (£30m) in funding.

The source described DeepMind as “the last large independent company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence,” and said it competed with the likes of Facebook and Baidu for talent.

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