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Zuckerberg, Musk invest in secretive artificial intelligence outfit

Posting in Technology

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are among investors for a hushed-up artificial intelligence project.

Musk, currently CEO SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Facebook founder Zuckerberg, as well as the actor who portrayed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in his biopic, Ashton Kutcher, have all joined together to invest in a secretive AI firm, Vicarious FPC.

The three public figures have pooled together and invested $40 million in the company. The mission of Vicarious, currently undergoing a second funding round, is to go beyond the confines of normal artificial intelligence -- by replicating part of the human brain.

The neocortex is the part of our brains which controls the senses, takes in visual cues, understands languages and completes mathematics. In other words, reminiscent of IBM's Watson supercomputer, Vicarious aims to create a system that thinks like a person.

While it may be decades before technology reaches this stage, high-profile technology firms worldwide are jumping on the opportunities artificial intelligence offers.

Google has gone on a robotics firm acquisition spree over the past year, snapping up DeepMind for $400 million, Boston Dynamics, and at least nine other robotics firms.

The tech giant has also purchased an enormous aircraft hangar from NASA to act as a research ground for robotics.

Facebook, on the other hand, is interested in how Big Data and information collection can be used to turn a profit -- generally by personalizing advertising and appealing to marketers to use the social media platform. Facial recognition technology is also being used by the platform, and Facebook recently hired artificial intelligence expert Yann LeCun to run a new lab dedicated to these technologies. However, a Facebook spokesman said that Zuckerberg’s investment in Vicarious was purely personal.

Vicarious's backers include a venture fund run by PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

Read on: Wall Street Journal

— By on March 24, 2014, 4:17 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure