Microsoft has just acquired Maluuba, a Canadian AI startup that focuses on pursuing “artificial general intelligence” by natural language processing to create literate, reasoning machines.
Maluuba was founded by Kaheer Suleman and Sam Pasupalak, two graduates of the University of Waterloo, in 2011. Recognizing that Personal Assistant systems such as Siri featured issues stemming from their lack of intelligence, such as poor recognition of verbal commands, Maluuba sought to use Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning techniques to help AI understand language better. The company seeks to create a truly literate and thinking machine, not just a robot that recognizes an input and gives a pre-programmed output.
According to Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, “Maluuba’s impressive team is addressing some of the fundamental problems in language understanding by modeling some of the innate capabilities of the human brain, from memory and common sense reasoning to curiosity and decision making. I’ve been in the AI research and development field for more than 20 years now, and I’m incredibly excited about the scenarios that this acquisition could make possible in conversational AI.
In the same Microsoft blog post, Shum announced that leading AI researcher Yoshua Bengio, head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, will be joining Microsoft as an advisor. With all the prior research and expertise that Microsoft will be gaining from the deal, it will be worth watching what the company comes up with in the next few years.