Five years ago, Stanford Ph.D. student Richard Socher created the set of benchmarks that such companies as Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and IBM (IBM) use to test their image-recognition systems. Now he has created a company that just might beat those standards.
MetaMind, the startup that Socher, after finishing his Ph.D. this summer, quietly co-founded with Sven Strohband, chief technology officer of Khosla Ventures, announced today that it has raised $8 million from Khosla (surprise) and Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff. The pitch is so-called deep learning—the process of training networks of computers to resemble the human brain’s capacity to recognize and analyze visuals or text—as applied to businesses from medical imaging to fast food. In the latter case, Strohband says, “you take an image from your cellphone of the food you’re about to eat, and [the customer’s computer system] automatically knows the food.” The company is giving away the technology on its website and charging interested users for help using and applying the tools.
MetaMind is jumping into a field crowded with big names investing orders of magnitude higher than $8 million. (Most, to be fair, keep their research to themselves.)
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