Google acquires AI company founded by game designer for $500M

Internet company acquires Syndicate developer Demis Hassabis' startup Deep Mind for a reported $500 million.

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Google has acquired British startup Deep Mind, an artificial intelligence company founded by chess prodigy and game designer Demis Hassabis. The Associated Press reports that Google's London office confirmed the purchase, but declined to specify an acquisition price, believed to be around $500 million.

Deep Mind describes itself as a "cutting edge artificial intelligence company" that combines the "best techniques from machine learning and systems neurosciences to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms." Google didn't say how it plans to leverage Deep Mind's portfolio for its AI initiatives going forward.

Hassabis got his start in the game industry with Bullfrog Productions, where he worked on the original Syndicate, as well as Theme Pack and Black & White (with Lionhead Studios) with iconic game designer Peter Molyneux.

In 1998, Hassabis founded and ran his own 60-person game company, Elixir Studios, where he created games like Republic and Evil Genius. The studio shut down in 2005, at which time Hassabis started a new career in the field of brain and memory research.

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