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The three are joining in a $40 million investment in Vicarious FPC, a secretive artificial-intelligence company.

The funding round, the second major infusion of capital for the company in two years, is the latest sign of life in artificial intelligence. Last month, GoogleGOOG -0.31% acquired another AI company called Deep Mind for $400 million.

Vicarious has an ambitious goal: Replicating the neocortex, the part of the brain that sees, controls the body, understands language and does math. Translate the neocortex into computer code and “you have a computer that thinks like a person,” says Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix. “Except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep."

The neocortex is an essential element of being human, providing the functions that allow us to think, see, move, and much more. Speaking to the Journal in an interview, Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix said that his company's goal is to build "a computer that thinks like a person."

Vicarious is part of a broader robotics and artificial-intelligence movement sweeping the tech world. A slew of major companies, including Google and Amazon, are looking to leverage robotics, and Google is especially interested in enhancing artificial intelligence.

Vicarious can't say how long it will take for it to achieve its goal of creating a robot that can think like a human, but the company believes it's only a matter of time before it happens.

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