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Google buys UK artificial intelligence startup DeepMind Technologies

Google has acquired "cutting edge" artificial intelligence company DeepMind for a reported fee of $400 million (£242 million).

It is the California-based company's largest European acquisition to date and a significant step forward in its goal of developing artificial intelligence technology.

DeepMind was founded in London two years ago by former computer game designer and child chess prodigy Demis Hassabis, together with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman.

It has since built a team of at least 50 people and attracted more than $50 million (£30 million) in funding.

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On its website the firm describes itself as a "cutting edge artificial intelligence company" that is supported by "some of the most iconic" technology entrepreneurs and investors of the past decade.

"We combine the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms," it states.

"Our first commercial applications are in simulations, e-commerce and games."

The sale was first reported by tech news site Re/code, which revealed that Google had confirmed the deal but did not specify a price. Sources gave the figure of $400 million (£242 million).

Google has been involved with research and development into artificial intelligence for a number of years. One division is even led by possibly the most famous futurist, Ray Kurzweil.

The purchase of robotics firm Boston Dynamics last month - Google's eighth robot-related acquisition - has inevitably led some to speculation that the company is planning some form of integration between its AI software and robots.