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Google Wins Battle for A.I. Startup DeepMind

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG) has purchased DeepMind Technologies, a British start-up specializing in artificial intelligence, for a reported $400 million to $500 million.

Google confirmed the purchase to re/code but would not disclose the price it paid. Re/code had reported Google spent $400 million. Citing o "people familiar with the situation," The Information reported Google beat Facebook  (FB) to the deal with a bid of $500 million.

Details about what DeepMind is developing is somewhat scarce. The firm describes itself as "a cutting edge artificial intelligence company. We combine the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms. Our first commercial applications are in simulations, e-commerce and games."

Others describe DeepMind's technology as aiming to make computers think like humans. As part of the deal, Google will reportedly create an ethics board to make sure these new A.I. technologies will not abused.

Google shares were losing 1.41% to $1,108.00 in early New York trading.

DeepMind was founded by neuroscientist and chess child prodigy Demis Hassabis, researcher Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman. Major investors in the company reportedly include Founders Fund, Horizons Ventures and Skype ( (MSFT)) and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallinn.

DeepMinds should wind up as part of Google's artificial intelligence research thrust initiative headed by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who has been Google's director of engineering for machine learning and language processing since 2012.

The A.I. development space is red hot at the moment. Facebook recently hired New York University professor Yann LeCunn to head its new artificial intelligence lab, Yahoo! (YHOO) bought LookFlow (a photo analysis start-up) and IBM (IBM) has its Watson supercomputer which can answer questions posed to it in "natural language."

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

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