Google Buys Neural Network Startup; Maybe Google's Version of Skynet Will be Friendly


Editor in Chief
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Jan 5, 2011

We think we may have found what Andy Rubin might be working on next...

It looks like Google is working hard to envision a future reality in which Skynet is real and becomes self-aware. Of course, hopefully having learned from the Terminator movies, they will work towards making it a much friendlier Android overlord. Late yesterday a press release was issued which shared that Google purchased a small neural network startup company, with likely plans to make their speech and image recognition that much better.

Of course, Science Fiction has shown us how these things go. Eventually it will evolve and take over the world, but perhaps the folks at Google will be able to instill their sense of openness and peace into it, so it will likely do so by fixing all of our problems for us instead of obliterating us.

All kidding aside, it's actually pretty exciting to get an indirect glimpse at one of Google's likely X Projects. Developing a true neural network could be the next step in disruptive computer technology of future devices. They even have the visionary genius, Ray Kurzweil working with them now. It's thrilling to imagine all the possibilities of what they will be able to create in the future. Here's that press statement,

U of T neural networks start-up acquired by Google
TORONTO, ON – Google has picked up a ground-breaking start-up out of the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto.

University Professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever, incorporated DNNresearch Inc. in 2012, and the company has been acquired by Google for its research on deep neural networks.

Hinton is world-renowned for his work with neural nets, and this research has profound implications for areas such as speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.

“Geoffrey Hinton’s research is a magnificent example of disruptive innovation with roots in basic research,” said U of T’s president, Professor David Naylor. “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.

“I extend my congratulations to Professor Hinton for this latest achievement.”

Recently, Krizhevsky and Sutskever, who will both be moving to Google, developed a system that dramatically improved the state of the art in object recognition.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Geoff, and a great opportunity for the department,” said Computer Science Chair Sven Dickinson. “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.”

The Google deal will support Prof. Hinton’s graduate students housed in the department’s machine learning group, while protecting their research autonomy under academic freedom. It will also allow Prof. Hinton himself to divide his time between his university research and his work at Google.

“I am extremely excited about this fantastic opportunity to keep my research here in Toronto and, at the same time, help Google apply new developments in deep learning to make systems that help people,” said Professor Hinton.

Professor Hinton will spend time at Google’s Toronto office and several months of the year at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

This announcement comes on the heels of a $600,000 gift Google awarded Professor Hinton’s research group to support further work in the area of neural nets.