Microsoft Acquires an A.I. Start-Up

Microsoft announced on a blog post from Friday morning that it has acquired Maluuba, a start-up based out of Toronto that focuses on using deep machine learning for natural language processing. Deep learning is the current popular approach to artificial intelligence, based on a set of algorithms that attempt to model high-level abstractions in data. In the post, Microsoft said, “We’ve recently set new milestones for speech and image recognition using deep learning techniques, and with this acquisition we are, as Wayne Gretzky would say, skating to where the puck will be next—machine reading and writing.”

In the summer of 2016, Mauluuba shared the results of an AI system that could read and comprehend text in an almost human-like capacity on The Verge. These result easily outperformed those of similar systems shared by Google and Facebook. Microsoft has also recently developed closer ties to Yoshua Bengio, a former advisor to Maluuba and soon-to-be advisor of Microsoft’s AI department. Benigo is a pioneer in the field of deep learning.

Maluuba’s AI system presents unique possibilities for Microsoft, such as integration with the company’s digital assistant Cortana. With a system that can read and comprehend as well as Maluuba’s, the endless chore of sorting through emails can be made much more efficient and less time consuming.

Microsoft echoed this idea in its blog post, “Imagine a future where, instead of frantically searching through your organization’s directory, documents or emails to find the top tax-law experts in your company, for example, you could communicate with an AI agent that would leverage Maluuba’s machine comprehension capabilities to immediately respond to your request.”

The post continued to explain how this AI system differentiates itself from the pack, “The agent would be able to answer your question in a company-security-complaint manner by having a deeper understanding of the contents of your organization’s documents and emails, instead of simply retrieving a document by keyword matching, which happens today.”

Microsoft hints at a plethora of other uses, “This is just one of hundreds of scenarios we could imagine as Maluuba pushes the state-of-the-art technology of machine literacy.”

Originally published on Biznob and Rush Hour Daily on Jan 14, 2017.

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