LinkedIn and DeepMind co-founders form AI startup to help humans talk to computers

Inflection AI also has a DeepMind vet as its chief scientist.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05:  Co-founder of Google DeepMind Mustafa Suleyman attends a Q&A during day 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt London at the Copper Box on December 5, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
John Phillips/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Some of the better-known minds in tech are uniting to tackle one of computing's greater challenges. CNBC reports LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman (pictured above) have formed Inflection AI, a company that will use artificial intelligence software to help humans talk to computers. The hope, according to Suleyman, is that you'll speak to computers in ordinary language — this will "almost certainly" be possible in five years, he said.

Suleyman will serve as CEO, while fellow DeepMind alumni Karén Simonyan will operate as Inflection's chief scientist. The company aims to stay relatively small to preserve the team's focus and speed.

The move was a long time in coming. Hoffman and Suleyman have known each other for nearly a decade, and Suleyman backed away from DeepMind in August 2019 following both a desire to "recharge" and criticisms of his management style in previous years. He became Google's VPP for AI product management and policy in December of that year, but left this January to work with Hoffman at venture capital firm Greylock Partners.

There are still many unknowns surrounding Inflection. It hasn't pinpointed its target audience or a timeline for its first products. The DeepMind veterans could help its chances, however, and they're trying to solve a common problem. Existing AI assistants aren't particularly clever, and fixing that could improve everything from the phone in your pocket to next-generation robots.

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