Facebook Buys Over AI Start-Up
Facebook Buys Over AI Start-Up
Earlier last week, Facebook confirmed its acquisition of Bloomsbury – a London-based artificial intelligence start-up and leader in Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology.
NLP technology gives machines the power to read unstructured documents, including those stored in a shared folder or instant messages and answer questions on them.
Bloomsbury are best known for developing an NLP technology called Cape that allows users to find information within large documents quickly.
Facebook announced the acquisition of Bloomsbury over the Facebook Research page:
“We're excited to announce that the team behind Bloomsbury AI has agreed to join Facebook in London. The Bloomsbury team has built a leading expertise in machine reading and understanding unstructured documents in natural language in order to answer any question.”
Value of the Deal
The costs for Facebook acquiring Bloomsbury are estimated somewhere between $23 million and $30 million.
Investors in the start-up, including William Tunstall-Pedoe who was a key player in the development of Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa, will receive a cut of around $5.5 million, while Bloomsbury’s founding team will see a share of $17.5 million.
While this is a ‘modest’ return for investors, it is expected to multiply as Bloomsbury moves out of its current infancy stage and continues to see further success and growth.
TechCrunch reported that one of the motives behind Facebooks acquisition of Bloomsbury is to reduce the amount of “Fake News” that permeates the social networking site.
Cape technology in its existing state is ready to be used by Facebook to improve their knowledge base functionality in moderating what content appears on users Facebook newsfeeds.
The acquisition will see Facebook working with Bloomsbury’s team of engineers and developers to further develop technology that will address the issue of fake news and their spindling problems with content management. The announcement states:
“[Bloomsbury’s] expertise will strengthen Facebook’s efforts in natural language processing research and help us further understand natural language and its applications.”
Co-founder and Head of Research at Bloomsbury, Dr Sebastian Riedel, is a particular asset and attraction in the acquisition.
Riedel is an internationally recognised scientist, leading the way in NLP and a professor at UCL in London. He also brings experience as the co-founder and adviser for Factmata – another company working to reduce fake news and misleading content from our lives.
Riedel and the rest of the team bring a depth of knowledge and experience, joining Facebook's existing London-based team of AI engineering experts.
"We look forward to welcoming them to Facebook and we can't wait to see what we build together.”
To put it lightly, Facebooks previous attempts at moderating what content we see on our newsfeeds has been disastrous. Of course, our wounds from the Cambridge Analytica scandal are still healing and there is much speculation surrounding the acquisition.
One user commented:
“What I want is 20 megabits per second videos like Vimeo, and what Facebook gives me is better ads through reading my messages and analyzing them.”
But by acquiring more technology and expertise, there is hope that Facebook will finally be able to get it right and fix their tainted reputation.
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