Microsoft Acquires Deep Learning Startup Maluuba to Advance Democratization of AI

Microsoft has acquired Maluuba, a Montreal-based company with a deep learning research lab for natural language understanding.

“Maluuba’s expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems will help us advance our strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone—consumers, businesses and developers,” says Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research Group.

Maluuba’s vision is to advance toward a more general artificial intelligence by creating literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans.

“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,” Shum says. “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.”

Maluuba was founded by Sam Pasupalak and Kaheer Suleman, who attended artificial intelligence classes together at the University of Waterloo.

“Understanding human language is an extremely complex task and, ultimately, the holy grail in the field of AI,” explains Pasupalak. “In early 2014, we realized that a great opportunity lay ahead, where machines could learn to model the intelligence and decision-making capabilities of the human brain.”

“Microsoft is an excellent match for our company,” said Suleman. “Microsoft provides us the opportunity to deliver our work to the billions of consumer and enterprise users that can benefit from the advent of truly intelligent machines.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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