Tess Torelli March 31, 2018

Google’s parent company Alphabet is increasingly commercializing the technology coming out of its artificial intelligence research unit DeepMind, four years after acquiring it.

Earlier this week, Google’s cloud business announced a new service that converts blocks of text into natural-sounding speech, the first product containing DeepMind code that’s for sale. The new Google Cloud Text-to-Speech application programming interface costs $16 for every million characters of text it processes in DeepMind’s artificial male and female voices.

Alphabet operates other AI research groups, but DeepMind has been doing more futuristic work, like teaching computer systems to beat top-ranked players of the Chinese board game Go. DeepMind is one of Alphabet’s so-called Other Bets, but in pushing the technology closer to Google, commercial applications are becoming more real. At Facebook and Microsoft, A.I. research groups churn out technology that find their way into marketable products.

Google, which generates 99 percent of Alphabet’s revenue, has drawn on DeepMind’s software already. In October, the company said its virtual assistant had adopted a DeepMind AI model called WaveNet to speak more like a real person. In 2016, Google said it had drastically decreased the expense of cooling its data centers using DeepMind’s wizardry.

DeepMind has also played a role in personalizing app recommendations in Google’s Play Store on Android devices.

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