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In Brief

Facebook, SpaceX CEOs Invest in Artificial Intelligence Company

artificially intelligent being
(Image credit: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-139531p1.html">jimmi</a> | <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a>)

The founders of Facebook and SpaceX and actor Ashton Kutcher are investing $40 million in a company working to create an artificial brain.

The company Vicarious FPC has the ambitious goal of recreating the neocortex — the part of the brain that controls movement, vision, language and other complex processes — on a computer. The result would be a computer that thinks like a person, "Except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep," Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix told the Wall Street Journal. But achieving that goal could be decades away.

In the meantime, Facebook could use artificial intelligence (AI) to convert huge amounts of data into a knowledge database, and the social networking company is already using AI for facial recognition in photos. The WSJ asked Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, and Kutcher about their investment, but both refused to comment.

Phoenix said that Vicarious aims to create a computer that could recognize not only shapes and objects, but textures.

The company has been very tight-lipped about how its technology works, and won't disclose its location for fear of corporate espionage or hacking, the WSJ reported.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.