|Founders||D. Scott Phoenix and Dileep George|
|Headquarters||San Francisco Bay Area, |
Vicarious is an artificial intelligence company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. They are using the theorized computational principles of the brain to build software that can think and learn like a human.
The company was founded in 2010 by D. Scott Phoenix and Dr. Dileep George. Before co-founding Vicarious, Phoenix was Entrepreneur in Residence at Founders Fund and CEO of Frogmetrics, a touchscreen analytics company he co-founded through the Y Combinator incubator program. Previously, Dr. George was Chief Technology Officer at Numenta, a company he co-founded with Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky (PALM, Handspring) while completing his PhD at Stanford University.
The company launched in February 2011 with funding from Founders Fund, Dustin Moskovitz, Adam D'Angelo (former Facebook CTO and co-founder of Quora), Felicis Ventures, and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale. In August 2012, in its Series A round of funding, it raised an additional $15 million. The round was led by Good Ventures; Founders Fund, Open Field Capital and Zarco Investment Group also participated.
The company received $40 million in its Series B round of funding. The round was led by such notables as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Vinod Khosla, and Ashton Kutcher. An additional undisclosed amount was later contributed by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, Skype co-founder Janus Friis and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.
Vicarious is developing machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain. One such software is a vision system known as the Recursive Cortical Network (RCN), it is a generative graphical visual perception system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans. The system is powered by a balanced approach that takes sensory data, mathematics, and biological plausibility into consideration. On October 22, 2013, beating CAPTCHA, Vicarious announced its model was reliably able to solve modern CAPTCHAs, with character recognition rates of 90% or better when trained on one style. However, Luis von Ahn, a pioneer of early CAPTCHA and founder of reCAPTCHA, expressed skepticism, stating: "It's hard for me to be impressed since I see these every few months." He pointed out that 50 similar claims to that of Vicarious had been made since 2003. Vicarious later published their findings in peer-reviewed journal Science showing they had definitively cracked the popular Turing test.
Vicarious has indicated that its AI was not specifically designed to complete CAPTCHAs and its success at the task is a product of its advanced vision system. Because Vicarious's algorithms are based on insights from the human brain, it is also able to recognize photographs, videos, and other visual data.
The Recursive Cortical Network uses a Markov Random Field to segment images (similar to the visual cortex) and process it through a hierarchy consisting of lateral connections. Thanks to the architecture, the model has extreme data efficiency (almost 900,000x more data efficient than traditional deep neural networks). The RCN is part of a model that incorporates a causal model and concept induction system recently created by Vicarious.