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Semantic Machines, a startup with artificial intelligence technology and talent from Apple and Google, disclosed today that it has raised $12.3 million in new funding.

Investors from Bain Capital Ventures and General Catalyst Partners are listed in the filing the startup submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last year, Semantic Machines named Larry Gillick as its chief technology officer. Gillick was previously chief speech scientist for Siri at Apple. Now Semantic Machines is looking to go further than Siri and other personal digital assistants currently on the market. “Semantic Machines is developing technology that goes beyond understanding commands, to understanding conversations,” the startup says on its website. “Our Conversational AI represents a powerful new paradigm, enabling computers to communicate, collaborate, understand our goals, and accomplish tasks.” The startup is building tools that third-party developers will be able to use.

Artificial intelligence, particularly the domain of deep learning, has been hot in the past few years. Deep learning involves training artificial neural networks on large sets of data and then getting them to make inferences about new data. This technique has led to advancements in the field of speech recognition, so it’s not surprising that Semantic Machines is working on deep learning. Recently, Google has improved the accuracy of its voice search, using deep learning. Facebook, meanwhile, acquired speech recognition startup Wit.ai at the beginning of this year.


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Semantic Machines started last year and is based in Newton, Massachusetts. Cofounder and president Dan Roth sold an earlier startup, Voice Signal Technologies, to Nuance Communications for nearly $300 million in 2007.

The startup did not immediately respond to VentureBeat’s request for comment.

Updated on December 29 to reflect that the company is working more broadly on artificial intelligence, not only speech recognition.

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