|15 January 2017|

North America

Microsoft has acquired a pioneering Canadian startup as it continues to ramp up its efforts to “bring AI to every person and organization on the planet”.

By tapping into the expertise of Montreal-based startup Maluuba, Harry Shum, EVP of Microsoft’s AI and Research organization, blogged it will “advance our strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone — consumers, businesses and developers.”

“We’ve recently set new milestones for speech and image recognition using deep learning techniques, and with this acquisition we are, as Wayne Gretzky would say, skating to where the puck will be next — machine reading and writing,” Harry said. “Sam Pasupalak and his Maluuba co-founder, Kaheer Suleman, have created a very strong engineering and research team that will become part of our Artificial Intelligence and Research organization. We believe that together, we can achieve greater scale for Maluuba’s groundbreaking work and accelerate our ability to develop software so computers can read, write and converse naturally.”

He continued: “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.”

And Maluuba issued a statement which shared Microsoft’s excitement. “Our new partnership enables us to advance more quickly toward our vision of creating literate machines,” it said.