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Facebook founder invests in IIT Bombay graduate's venture

Monday, 24 March 2014 - 7:25am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Dileep George's firm Vicarious uses visual perception system to interpret the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to the human brain

A venture co-founded by IIT-B graduate Dileep George has won funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher.

The $40 million investment was the second major fund infusion in Vicarious FPC, an artificial intelligence firm founded by George and Scott Phoenix.

Vicarious is developing machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain. It is first to use a visual perception system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans.

Powering this technology is a new computational paradigm which Vicarious calls the Recursive Cortical Network.

The system claims to reliably solve modern Captchas, including Google's reCaptchas, the world's most widely used test of a machine's ability to act human.

A Captcha scheme is considered broken if an algorithm is able to reach a precision of at least 1%.

By leveraging core insights from machine learning and neuroscience, the Vicarious AI achieves success rates up to 90% on modern Captchas from Google, Yahoo, PayPal, Captcha.com, and others.

This advancement renders text-based Captchas no longer effective as a Turing test.

George was previously chief technology officer of Numenta, an AI company he co-founded with Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky.

Before that, this IIT-B graduate was a research fellow at the Redwood Neuroscience Institute. He has authored 22 patents and several influential papers on the mathematics of brain circuits. His research on hierarchical models of the brain earned George a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

"Recent AI systems like IBM's Watson and deep neural networks rely on brute force: connecting massive computing power to massive datasets. This is the first time this distinctively human act of perception has been achieved, and it uses relatively minuscule amounts of data and computing power. The Vicarious algorithms achieve a level of effectiveness and efficiency much closer to human brains," said Vicarious's Phoenix.

"Understanding how brain creates intelligence is the ultimate scientific challenge. Vicarious has a long-term strategy for developing human level artificial intelligence, and it starts with building a brain-like vision system. Modern Captchas provide a snapshot of the challenges of visual perception, and solving those in a general way required us to understand how the brain does it," said George.

Solving Captcha is the first public demonstration of the capabilities of Vicarious' Recursive Cortical Network (RCN) technology. Although still many years away, the commercial applications of RCN will have broad implications for robotics, medical image analysis, image and video search, and many other fields.

"We should be careful not to underestimate the significance of Vicarious crossing this milestone," said Facebook co-founder and board member Dustin Moskovitz. "This is an exciting time for AI research, and they are at the forefront of building the first truly intelligent machines."

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