Artificial intelligence startup Vicarious collects $40 million from tech elites

It has been a big year for artificial intelligence. Google bought DeepMind in January for $400 million and, now, a group of tech elites and venture capital firms have awarded $40 million to Vicarious.

Venture capital firm Formation 8 led the round, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. It was joined by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and actor Ashton Kutcher. Re/code reports that Box CEO Aaron Levie, incoming Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Braintree founder Bryan Johnson, Khosla Ventures, Good Ventures Foundation, Felicis Ventures, Initialized Capital, Open Field Capital, Zarco Investment Group, Metaplanet Holdings and Founders Fund were also involved. Vicarious received $15 million in a first round in 2012.

Last year, Vicarious announced that it had developed software that could crack CAPTCHAs with at least 90 percent accuracy. But that is only the beginning of what the startup plans to do with its AI, which is based on how the human brain functions. Its first product is a system that can understand the contents of photographs and videos similarly to how a human would, according to the Vicarious website.

It could be decades before Vicarious achieves its ambitious virtual brain. But companies like Facebook and Google are no doubt interested in seeing it achieved as soon as possible.