LinkedIn billionaire Reid Hoffman, DeepMind co-founder launch AI startup

Tech to 'relay our thoughts and ideas' to machines? Oh yes, sign us right up


LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman, and ex-DeepMind AI expert Karén Simonyan announced on Tuesday a new venture of theirs named Inflection AI.

The startup will focus on machine learning and natural language processing. "Throughout the history of computing, humans have had to learn to speak the language of machines. In the new paradigm, machines will understand our language," Suleyman said in a statement.

Modern neural networks trained on vast amounts of speech and text have advanced human-computer communication. Smart speakers armed with AI assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, can be instructed to complete all sorts of tasks with voice commands.

The Inflection AI trio want to make the technology more seamless in consumer products. "Recent advances in artificial intelligence promise to fundamentally redefine human-machine interaction. We will soon have the ability to relay our thoughts and ideas to computers using the same natural, conversational language we use to communicate with people. Over time these new language capabilities will revolutionize what it means to have a digital experience," Suleyman added.

Inflection AI is backed by Greylock, a top technology VC fund, where Hoffman is a general partner and Suleyman is a venture partner, CNBC reported. The financial details were not disclosed. Both men will continue to work at Greylock while Suleyman leads the upstart as CEO.

The main brain behind Inflection AI's software will be Karén Simonyan, who sold his company Vision Factory to DeepMind in 2014. He joined the Google stablemate and worked on many of its largest projects, such as the Go-playing system AlphaZero and the protein-folding system AlphaFold. Simonyan has since left DeepMind to join Inflection AI as its chief scientist.

Before Suleyman was at Graylock, he led DeepMind's efforts to build Streams, a mobile app designed to be an "assistant for nurses and doctors everywhere," alerting them if someone was at risk of developing kidney disease. But the project was controversial as it effectively obtained 1.6 million UK patient records without those folks' explicit consent, drawing criticism from a privacy watchdog. Streams was later taken over by Google Health, which shut down the app and deleted the data.

Billionaire Hoffman has a long interest in AI. He graduated from Stanford University in 1990 with a degree in symbolic systems and cognitive science before earning a Master's in Philosophy from the University of Oxford in 1993.

He is an early investor in OpenAI, and helped set up the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, a research and philanthropy institute between MIT and Harvard University. He is also on the board of the Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence institute at Stanford University.

The Register has asked Inflection AI for comment. ®

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