AI Company Vicarious Gets High Profile Funding Boost

Friday, March 21, 2014

Artificial Neocortex

 Artificial Intelligence
Major investors including Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Ashton Kutcher are joining Peter Thiel with a $40 million investment in Vicarious FPC, a stealthy artificial-intelligence company that has already turned heads with it's CAPTCHA-beating algorithms.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have just invested $40m in the company that recently announced their artificial intelligence could decipher CAPTCHAs.

Joining Peter Thiel, the PayPal billionaire, whose Founders Fund targets cutting edge technology and Ashton Kutcher, actor and tech investor, also investing, Zuckerberg and Musk are also joined by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

A Facebook spokesman said Zuckerberg’s investment in Vicarious, which hasn’t been previously reported, is a personal one and does not reflect Facebook’s interest in using Vicarious software.


"Translate the neocortex into computer code and 'you have a computer that thinks like a person,'" says Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix. 'Except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep.'”

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According to Vicarious’s website, the company is developing “machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain."

"Our first technology is a visual perception system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans. Powering this technology is a new computational paradigm we call the Recursive Cortical Network.”

Company founder D. Scott Phoenix told the Wall Street Journal that if they are successful, Vicarious will have created "a computer that thinks like a person except it doesn't need to eat or sleep".  Essentially they are trying to build a human neocortex in silico.

Phoenix said his aim was to create a computer that can understand not just shapes and objects but the textures associated with them. He said he hopes Vicarious’s computers will learn to how to cure diseases and create cheap, renewable energy, as well as performing the jobs that employ most human beings. “We tell investors that right now, human beings are doing a lot of things that computers should be able to do,” he said.

Vicarious, whose other co-founder was neuroscientist Dileep George, is a long way from accomplishing its goals. Phoenix says the company won’t make a profit anytime soon and it has said very little about how its technology works. It hasn’t even disclosed its exact address, for fear it might be the target of corporate espionage or hacking.

The investment parallel's other major funding announcements for artificial intelligence ventures, including IBM's spin-off of the Watson Group, a 2,000-employee division dedicated to developing its self-learning super-computer, numerous Google robotics and AI acquisitions and Facebook's creation of it's own AI Lab.

SOURCE  Wall Street Journal

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