Deals

Artificial Intelligence startup Vicarious grabs $40M from Zuckerberg, Musk, Kutcher, & others

Vicarious, a company that produces artificial-intelligence technology, has closed a fresh $40 million round of funding today that includes a handful of notable investors like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla founder Elon Musk, and actor/investor Ashton Kutcher.

Vicarious’ tech focuses on trying to digitally recreate the part of the brain, called the neocortex, that handles sight, controls the body, interprets language, and does math. The startup believes that by doing this, it will be able to create an artificial intelligence that actually thinks like a human does.

“We tell investors that right now, human beings are doing a lot of things that computers should be able to do,” Vicarious cofounder Scott Phoenix told the Wall Street Journal. He added that Vicarious hopes to eventually provide the ability for machines to perform highly complex tasks like finding cures to diseases, but that in the short term it is working on getting its AI tech to recognize objects, shapes, and even textures of those things.

And while Vicarious’ ambitions are high, it likely won’t turn a profit for several years, according to the startup. Still, the work Vicarious is doing is both interesting and important to some of the larger tech companies. For instance, Facebook has its own AI division that’s working on improving facial recognition technology and Google acquired AI startup DeepMind earlier this year for an estimated $400 million.

The new investment, Vicarious’ second round, was led by Formation 8. Founded in 2011, the Union City, Calif.-based startup has raised a total of $60 million in funding to date from Good Ventures, Founders Fund, and others.