In its first aquisition of calendar 2017, Microsoft announced plans to buy Montreal-based deep-learning startup Maluuba for an undisclosed amount.
Maluuba has done work in natural-language understanding and reinforcement learning.
Harry Shum, Microsoft executive vice president of the company's Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, explained a potential scenario where Maluuba's technology could help this way:
"Imagine a future where, instead of frantically searching through your organization's directory, documents or emails to find the top tax-law experts in your company, for example, you could communicate with an AI agent that would leverage Maluuba's machine comprehension capabilities to immediately respond to your request. The agent would be able to answer your question in a company security-compliant manner by having a deeper understanding of the contents of your organization's documents and emails, instead of simply retrieving a document by keyword matching, which happens today. This is just one of hundreds of scenarios we could imagine as Maluuba pushes the state-of-the-art technology of machine literacy."
Microsoft officials said Maluuba co-founders Sam Pasupalak and Kaheer Suleman will become part of Shum's organization.
Yoshua Bengio, an advisor to Maluuba and head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, also will be advising Microsoft and interacting directly with Shum as part of the deal.
Microsoft created the combined Artificial Intelligence and Research Group last September concurrently with the departure of executive vice president Qi Lu, who previously led the combined Office and Bing organizations.
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