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Facebook Founders Fund Artificial Intelligence Start-up

Investor Dustin Moskovitz says Vicarious, which just closed a $15 million funding round, will "revolutionize every industry."
Kismet the robot at the MIT Museum.

Araya Diaz/Stringer/Getty

"The lesson learned is [founders should] set expectations higher [for themselves and their companies]." - says Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook co-founder and Vicarious investor

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Artificial intelligence research start-up Vicarious announced today that it has received a $15 million Series A round led by Good Ventures. The funding values the company at more than $100 million. 

"The technology that Vicarious is developing has the potential to improve all lives and revolutionize every industry," Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook co-founder and founder of Good Ventures, said in a sweeping statement to the press. Moskovitz also announced he will join Vicarious's board of directors.

Vicarious, co-founded in 2010 by Dileep George and D. Scott Phoenix, said the $15 million will be used exclusively for research and development of its Recursive Cortical Network, the company's flagship software that aims to "learn" like the human brain.

The first step in developing software comparable to human thinking is to master one sensory perception, Phoenix told Inc. 

Vicarious' immediate goal: get artifical intelligence to "see." He said they want to get the software's visual perception system to interpret visual stimuli like a human. Phoenix added that includes "imagining new things it hasn't seen before."

Phoenix said that he is not sure when or how Vicarious's software will be first be used, but potential uses include determinging whether tumors are malignant, detecting product defects, or taking a picture of a meal to determine its number of calories.

"It's sort of like the microprocessor or the cellular telephone. At some point those technologies were in very early stages," Phoenix said. "It's something that you have to take a long view on."

Other investors participating in the round include Founders Fund, Open Field Capital, and Vicarious's angel investors Steve Brown and Zarco Investment Group. Former Facebook chief technology officer and Quora co-founder Adam D'Angelo is also a Vicarious investor.

Good Ventures and Founders Fund were unavailable for comment at press time.

IMAGE: Photo courtesy Chris Devers
Last updated: Aug 22, 2012

JOHN MCDERMOTT | Staff Writer

John McDermott is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Playboy and on AOL.com. He recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to work for Inc.com.




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