Surprising but let’s say is about time. As announced today, Facebook has acquired the team behind Bloomsbury AI, a London-based start-up, as a way of combating fake news on its platform, which was first reported by TechCrunch.
Founded in 2015, Bloomsbury AI specialises in natural language processing technology, and has developed an AI called “Cape,” which can read documents and then answer questions about their contents. Facebook said in its announcement. “Their expertise will strengthen Facebook’s efforts in natural language processing research, and help us further understand natural language and its applications.”
According to a post from the official Facebook Academics page, the company says Bloomsbury’s “expertise will strengthen Facebook’s efforts in natural language processing research, and help us further understand natural language and its applications.” In other words, as Facebook continues to hand more platform moderation duties over to algorithms, the underlying AI technology behind those algorithms still has a long way to go.
In the AI community, Facebook is one of the biggest players, with positions at the company’s Facebook AI Research, or FAIR, organisation commanding large salaries and projects that span the more cutting-edge sectors of deep learning, natural language processing, and other popular subfields. For Facebook, the grand goal is to have AI that is so adept at understanding images, videos, and text that it can effectively moderate the entire social network platform, including Facebook, Instagram, and its many other properties.
This is easily the biggest UK AI acquisition this year, and one of the most interesting since Google sucked up the machine learning powerhouse DeepMind in 2014. The deal is believed to be valued between $23 and $30 million, which is a far cry from DeepMind’s $500 million asking price. However, it’s notable for a couple of reasons.
However, this is the latest in a run of good news for the UK’s AI sector, which included Samsung opening a massive AI research centre in Cambridge. The UK is increasingly being regarded as an AI superpower, and rightfully so. It’s also reflective of Facebook’s strategy for content moderation, which has seen it rely more on technology and automated processes than human decision making.