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Samsung said to have made another AI investment, may be politically motivated

Samsung has reportedly invested in a Chinese startup called DeePhi Tech, but the reason behind the move remains elusive.

Published onOctober 23, 2017

Samsung, like many of the major players in the tech industry, has been making moves towards improving its AI services in the past few years. Companies are looking to Artificial Intelligence as an avenue through which they can pull ahead of the competition, and we’re only going to hear more about it in future.

In 2017, Samsung has overhauled its digital assistant products with a new service called Bixby and made several more investments in the AI space. According to reports from South Korea over the weekend, it has also recently made one more.

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The Korea Herald reports that Samsung invested in a Chinese startup called DeePhi Tech in August, a company focused on “deep learning” technologies. DeePhi Tech is said to be developing a “neural network compression technology” which could make deep learning more efficient, as well as “neural network-based AI chipsets for portable devices” that would support “instantaneous speech recognition,” among other things.

With Samsung said to be working on its own mobile AI chips, and having speech recognition at the heart of one of its current products (Bixby), you can see why investments in this area could prove fruitful for the company.

This follows a string of Samsung acquisitions in the area of AI in recent times. Samsung snapped up Viv Labs, a startup founded by the creators of Siri, last year, while also putting money in AI chipmaker Graphcore. The funding of DeePhi Tech would also make sense, then, as part of Samsung’s broader focus on AI. But something else might be at play.

“Samsung appears to have made [a] considerable investment in the Chinese company, in line with the Chinese government’s move to foster homegrown AI tech firms,” one of The Korean Herald‘s sources said. “The investment could have been made out of political consideration, not necessarily over the company’s technological prowess.”

That’s just pure conjecture right now, and knowing Samsung’s current goals, as well as the notion that it is seeking to invest $1 billion in AI, it’s still highly possible that Samsung is keen on the tech. How all of the company’s investments will come together in future, however, remains to be seen.

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