Google buys startup biz, slurps up its NLP brains

Nah, not that neuro-bollocks – natural language processing

Google have snapped up API.AI, a Silicon Valley startup specialising in building tools for natural language understanding in mobiles, web applications and devices.

The details of the financial transaction have not been disclosed.

Launched in 2014, API.AI quickly recognised the growing trend in companies interested in giving their technology a voice.

“We’ve been constantly impressed by the fast and energetic adoption of the technology from people building conversational interfaces for chatbots, connected cars, smart home devices, mobile applications, wearables, services, robots and more,” Ilya Gelfenbeyn, CEO of API.AI, said.

The company’s API works in three steps. First, the acoustic signals from speech is translated into text using automatic speech recognition.

Second, its natural language processing kicks in to process the text to help the machine "understand" what the user is saying. The final step is what the developers call “fulfillment” - the machine executes the user’s request.

Many communication applications such as Slack, Facebook Messenger and Kik use API.AI already.

Google’s vice president, Scott Huffman, hasn’t explicitly said what API.AI will be working on, apart from helping “empower [Google’s] developers to continue building great natural language interfaces.”

Perhaps, the biggest hint comes from both companies having a mutual interest in developing AI and machine learning for natural language processing.

Google recently unveiled its voice powered AI assistant, Google Assistant, a rival to Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, earlier this year.

The tech giant’s AI research hub, Google DeepMind, have also been playing around with computer speech. A recent paper demonstrated its “WaveNet” model which uses neural networks to make computer voices sound more human. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Verizon: Ransomware sees biggest jump in five years
    We're only here for DBIRs

    The cybersecurity landscape continues to expand and evolve rapidly, fueled in large part by the cat-and-mouse game between miscreants trying to get into corporate IT environments and those hired by enterprises and security vendors to keep them out.

    Despite all that, Verizon's annual security breach report is again showing that there are constants in the field, including that ransomware continues to be a fast-growing threat and that the "human element" still plays a central role in most security breaches, whether it's through social engineering, bad decisions, or similar.

    According to the US carrier's 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) released this week [PDF], ransomware accounted for 25 percent of the observed security incidents that occurred between November 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021, and was present in 70 percent of all malware infections. Ransomware outbreaks increased 13 percent year-over-year, a larger increase than the previous five years combined.

    Continue reading
  • Slack-for-engineers Mattermost on open source and data sovereignty
    Control and access are becoming a hot button for orgs

    Interview "It's our data, it's our intellectual property. Being able to migrate it out those systems is near impossible... It was a real frustration for us."

    These were the words of communication and collaboration platform Mattermost's founder and CTO, Corey Hulen, speaking to The Register about open source, sovereignty and audio bridges.

    "Some of the history of Mattermost is exactly that problem," says Hulen of the issue of closed source software. "We were using proprietary tools – we were not a collaboration platform before, we were a games company before – [and] we were extremely frustrated because we couldn't get our intellectual property out of those systems..."

    Continue reading
  • UK government having hard time complying with its own IR35 tax rules
    This shouldn't come as much of a surprise if you've been reading the headlines at all

    Government departments are guilty of high levels of non-compliance with the UK's off-payroll tax regime, according to a report by MPs.

    Difficulties meeting the IR35 rules, which apply to many IT contractors, in central government reflect poor implementation by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and other government bodies, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

    "Central government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds to cover tax owed for individuals wrongly assessed as self-employed. Government departments and agencies owed, or expected to owe, HMRC £263 million in 2020–21 due to incorrect administration of the rules," the report said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022