Is Google Cornering the Market on Deep Learning?

This week, Google reportedly acquired DeepMind Technologies, a startup based in London that had one of the biggest concentrations of researchers anywhere working on deep learning, a relatively new field of artificial intelligence research that aims to achieve tasks like recognizing faces in video or words in human speech.
The acquisition, aimed at adding skilled experts rather than specific products, marks an acceleration in efforts by Google, Facebook, and other Internet firms to monopolize the biggest brains in artificial intelligence research.
In an interview last month, before the DeepMind acquisition, Peter Norvig, a director of research at Google, estimated that his company already employed “less than 50 percent but certainly more than 5 percent” of the world’s leading experts in machine learning, the wider discipline of which deep learning is the cutting edge.
Companies like Google expect deep learning to help them create new types of products that can understand and learn from the images, text, and video clogging the Web. And to a significant degree, leading academic scientists have embraced Silicon Valley, where they can command teams of engineers instead of students and have access to the largest, most interesting data sets.
“It’s a combination of the computing resources we have and the headcounts we can offer,” Norvig said. “At Google, if you want a copy of the Web, well, we just happen to have one sitting around.”