Maluuba, a Canadian startup focused towards creating “Thinking Machines” is now part of Microsoft. Maluuba’s acquisition will give Microsoft an edge over its rivals in AI and deep learning innovations. According to Harry Shum, Executive VP of Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, Maluuba’s research team will work closely with its voice assistant, Cortana.
Microsoft’s latest acquisition will boost its efforts to make rapid advancements towards building smarter systems using natural language processing technology. Maluuba has a full-fledged deep learning research lab to understand natural learning. Additionally, Microsoft is also bringing Yoshua Bengio onto its advisory panel. He is already an advisor at Maluuba. Yoshua is world’s foremost expert in deep learning and is currently the head of the Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms. Microsoft already holds a stake in Yoshua’s AI incubator – Element AI. .
Harry Shum said, “Maluuba’s expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems will help us advance our strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone — consumers, businesses, and developers.”
Shum added, “Sam Pasupalak and his Maluuba co-founder, Kaheer Suleman, have created a very strong engineering and research team that will become part of our Artificial Intelligence and Research organization. We believe that together, we can achieve greater scale for Maluuba’s groundbreaking work and accelerate our ability to develop software so computers can read, write and converse naturally.”
Kaheer Suleman, CTO and Co-Founder of Maluuba remarked, “We’re solving fundamental challenges in deep learning and natural language to power a new era of artificial intelligence.”
“Microsoft is an excellent match for our company. Their ambitious vision of democratizing AI to empower every person and every organization on the planet fundamentally aligns with how we see our technology being used. Microsoft provides us the opportunity to deliver our work to the billions of consumer and enterprise users that can benefit from the advent of truly intelligent machines,” the co-founders of the company wrote in an online post.
Deciphering human language accurately remains the biggest challenge for AI experts, and hence considered as the holy grail of AI. Maluuba’s Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning research lab is working to create AI-powered literate machines, simulating human intelligence and decision-making capabilities.
Adding Maluuba is a key development in Microsoft’s attempt to leap ahead in the AI race. In last three years, the software behemoth has bought prominent AI and predictive analytics incubators, including Genee, SwiftKey, VoloMetrix, and Equivio.
According to a report by Statista, the worldwide AI market revenue is expected to grow 10x between 2016 and 2025. In 2016, the AI market was worth $644 million. At last count, there were more than 250 startups that belong to AI category. However, only a handful of them is catering to natural language processing market, offering solutions in voice and speech recognition, and text prediction. Maluuba in Microsoft will accelerate machine learning innovations, and inspire other startups to focus on niche AI categories, driving profitable business intelligence platforms.