Google Gobbles Up Cutting-Edge Artificial Intelligence Firm

Google has purchased a London-based tech startup devoted to "deep learning," an advanced form of artificial intelligence, for $400 million, according to the website Re/code, which confirmed the acquisition with Google.

Deep learning is considered the next step in computer intelligence, and technology giants including Google, Facebook and IBM have in recent months invested in pioneering the technology, fighting to hire some of the biggest names in the field.

With Google's acquisition of DeepMind, the company essentially gains the startup's founder Demis Hassabis.

Hassabis, 37, is a programmer and neuroscientist. A former chess prodigy, Hassabis started his career designing video games, according to his bio linked from the DeepMind website.

The company describes itself as "a cutting edge artificial intelligence company. We combine the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms."

Deep learning is an effort to build computers that think and learn by a process similar to human brains. Like brains, deep learning machines intuitively understand how the component parts of an idea - like the features of a face - can be identified and reconstructed.

The DeepMind acquisition comes on the heels of Google's purchase of Boston Dynamics, one of the world's leading developers of robots.

Neither Google nor DeepMind responded to ABC News's request for a comment.

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