Published: Tue, January 17, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

Microsoft Corporation acquires deep learning startup Maluuba

Microsoft Corporation acquires deep learning startup Maluuba

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced on Friday that it had acquired a startup company, Maluuba, with intent to compete head-to-head with Google and Salesforce.

With the attainment of Maluuba, Microsoft will apparently have an advantage in regards to natural language processing.

Bringing on board Maluuba co-founders Kaheer Suleman and Sam Pasupalak, along with their team from the startup, was meant to accelerate Microsoft's "ability to develop software so computers can read, write and converse naturally", the company said. According to TechCrunch, they participated in 2012 San Francisco Startup Battlefield competition. Maluuba's vision is to move towards a more general artificial intelligence by creating literate machines that can think, reason and communicate as humans.

Founded in 2011 by students at the University of Waterloo, Maluuba "creates programs that use natural-language processing, which helps computers understand dialogue and develop reasoning capabilities in areas of research known as deep learning and reinforcement learning". These are great problems to be solved by the artificial intelligence industry. The North American company has announced the acquisition of Maluuba, a pioneer company in AI, based in Montreal.

Maluuba will remain in Montreal and report to Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft's AI and Research group. Bengio is a professor of computer science and operations research at the University of Montreal and leads the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms.

With the acquisition, Microsoft's AI capabilities may get a major boost, leading to the creation of a smarter Cortana sometime in the near future.

Maluuba impressed by demonstrating a virtual assistant product early in startup's life cycle.

Canadian machine-learning researchers have been hot properties as the world's biggest companies seek to make devices and software more intelligent. This broader domain focus can lead to a new breakthrough in AI research, more so than focusing on narrow domains. Deep learning is an approach to artificial intelligence now in vogue that has driven incredible gains in the field over the last five years.

This new acquisition will take Microsoft deeper into the heart of machine reading and writing, considered to be the next level of AI.

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