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Exclusive: Google launches AI investment platform

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Google has launched a new venture capital program focused on artificial intelligence, Axios has learned from multiple sources.

Why it matters: Google has never before had an investment effort aimed at a specific type of technology. Plus, this will be led by engineers, rather than by professional venture capitalists.

Details: The effort is being led by Anna Patterson, a longtime Google VP of engineering who specializes in AI. Also involved is Ankit Jain, who returned to Google's engineering department last month after having served as VP of product at SimilarWeb (which had acquired his startup, Quettra). Other Google AI engineers also are expected to rotate through the program, which is designed to provide startups with hands-on mentorship and, in some cases, incubation space and services. Patterson will report up through Google, rather than through Alphabet (unlike leadership of Google Ventures and growth equity group CapitalG).

Deal plans: Word is that the group is seeking to make relatively small investments, having spoken to entrepreneurs and outside VCs about check sizes of between $1 million and $10 million. If the opportunity is right, the new program may co-invest with Google Ventures.

A Google spokeswoman declined comment.

Steve LeVine 8 hours ago
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Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality

Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen / Getty

Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.

What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."

Khorri Atkinson 2 hours ago
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Brother of Florida shooter arrested for trespassing at Stoneman Douglas High

Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Florida schol school massacre. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett, Pool / Getty Images

Zachary Cruz, the brother of Nikolas Cruz who confessed to carrying out last month's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was arrested Monday after authorities say he trespassed on the site where the shooting took place, per the Miami Herald.

Situational awareness: The arrest comes just over a month after his brother shot and killed 14 students and 3 staff members to which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.