Aiming to ‘Democratize’ AI, Microsoft Acquires Maluuba

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The deal was made to bring deep learning to Microsoft products such as SwiftKey and Cortana.

Microsoft’s acquisition of  Maluuba, announced on Jan. 13, is expected to bring Maluuba’s expertise in deep-learning to Microsoft’ products that use artificial intelligence, such as SwiftKey, Cortana, MileIQ, Office 365 and the Bot Framework

In the announcement, Microsoft pointed to its recent milestones in speech and image recognition and said they are look ahead to machine reading and writing as their next goal. They’ll work with Maluuba’s experts to create literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans, as part of a goal to “democratize” AI.

“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,” said Harry Shum, EVP of Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, in a 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, you could communicate with an AI agent that would leverage Maluuba’s machine comprehension capabilities to immediately respond to your request.”

He continued: “The agent would be able to answer your question in a company security-compliant 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. This is just one of hundreds of scenarios we could imagine as Maluuba pushes the state-of-the-art technology of machine literacy.”

Microsoft also announced that world-renowned deep learning expert Yoshua Bengio, head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms and an advisor to Maluuba, will come on board as an advisor to the company. Microsoft says they will reveal more projects and plans with and for Maluuba in the coming months. No financial details were provided.

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Sue Walsh

About Sue Walsh

Sue Walsh is News Writer for RTInsights, and a freelance writer and social media manager living in New York City. Her specialties include tech, security and e-commerce. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlfridaygeek.

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