Artificial intelligence seems to be on the minds of the world’s leading innovators and entrepreneurs these days, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla owner Elon Musk, former PayPal CEO Peter Thiel and actor Ashton Kutcher reportedly invested millions of dollars in San Francisco-based start up Vicarious, which specializes in the development of advanced computational models and machine learning software.
The multi-million dollar investment in the company, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last week, comes only a month after Google bought the AI company Deep Mind for $400 million.
Established in 2010, Vicarious aims to create computer programs that “think and learn” just like a human being. Recently, Vicarious has been working on software that would mimic the human brain’s neocortex, the region responsible for bodily control, sight, language comprehension and math solving.
Zuckerberg, Musk and Kutcher invested a total of $40 million in the company, while Thiel added $1.2 million. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz was said to have invested $15 million in Vicarious as well.
While Zuckerberg was reported to have invested in the company as a side project to Facebook, the technology being created by Vicarious would be of incredible use to the social media giant. According to Vicarious’s website, its projects include a visual perception system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans. Such capacity could be used by Facebook to perfect its facial recognition software.
The company is still far from achieving its goals, Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix told The Journal, adding that he did not expect it to be profitable for at least several years. However, Phoenix said he believes that in the future, Vicarious’s computers will be able to perform most jobs currently manned by humans. He said he expects Vicarious’s computers to find cures for diseases and create renewable, cheap energy as well.