Facebook and Paypal founders invest in secretive AI firm

Human-like computers big on Zuckerburg's shopping list

AI firm, Vicarious FPC, has received substantial backing from Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Ashton Kutcher, who have come together to invest $40 million (£24 million, AU$43 million) in the AI company.

The company hopes to replicate the section of the brain which controls the senses of the body, known as the neo-cortex in code, and understands language and mathematics. If successful, it will be the nearest yet humans will have come to replicate a human brain in silicon.

The interest from big firms is understandable, and though computers with human brain compute capacity may be decades away, Facebook certainly has a more present goal in mind.

Zuckerberg, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, wants to turn Facebook into a database where questions can be instantaneously answered.

Lofty ambitions

Vicarious is, however, a long way from accomplishing even its initial goals, let alone its loftier ambitions of using AI to cure disease and create renewable energy. Co-founder Scott Phoenix has said that Vicarious won't even be close to making a profit for many years.

The firm has also said little and less about its tech and any details of its work, and even refuses to disclose its HQ's address for fear of espionage.

Other backers of the AI company include Paypal founder Peter Thei and Dustin Moskovitz. Both Elon Musk and Ashton Kutcher have refused comment.