Google forked out over $500
million for a little-known
London startup called
DeepMind in 2014 without
specifying how the
company’s artificial-
intelligence technology would
be used to increase Google’s
revenues, which already run
into tens of billions of dollars
every year.
That all changed on
Wednesday when DeepMind
announced that Google had
found a use for DeepMind’s
technology in its enormous
data centers.
Since being acquired by
Google, DeepMind’s AI has
been used to beat humans at
board games and create free
apps with the National
Health Service. Neither
application has helped
Google make – or save – any
But now Google is using a
DeepMind AI system to
control the huge air-
conditioning units in its
power-hungry data centers,
where servers consume
enough energy to power
entire cities and get very hot
in the process.
The AI system does this by
predicting how much air
conditioning will be needed to
deal with an anticipated
change in data-center
temperature, which
fluctuates as demand for
services like YouTube,
Google Maps, and Gmail rises
and falls.
DeepMind says its AI can
make the cooling units in
Google’s data centers 40%
more efficient, ultimately
cutting the data centers’
overall electricity
consumption by 15%.
DeepMind’s technology has
been deployed across only a
handful of Google’s data
centers, but Google is
planning to introduce the
company’s machine-learning
software to all 15 of its data
centers by the end of the
year, potentially resulting in
massive energy savings on
Google’s sizable electricity
DeepMind cofounder Mustafa
Suleyman was unable to say
how much money Google
stood to save on its
electricity bill, but the figure
could run into tens or even
hundreds of millions given
the size of Google’s data-
center operation. In 2011,
Google’s data centers
reportedly used 0.01% of the
world’s electricity .
But data centers aren’t the
only place where DeepMind
can have an effect on
Google’s bottom line.
The company has also said
in the past couple of months
that it intends to sell its
products and services to
healthcare providers like the
NHS at some point, providing
Google with an additional
revenue stream.
All of this adds up to make
DeepMind an interesting
acquisition that could create
significantly more than the
$500 million Google paid for
the startup.
“DeepMind looks to be an
acquisition of YouTube/
Android significance for
Google,” Chris Lacy, an
entrepreneur and software
developer, wrote on Twitter,
prompting a retweet from
one of DeepMind’s