Artificial intelligence has long been identified as the next big thing in tech, and Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Ashton Kutcher know it. The trio has joined forces to invest a combined $40 million in Vicarious FPC, a "secretive artificial-intelligence company" that is currently in its second round of funding.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Vicarious aims to create technology that can function like the human neocortex, which is responsible for some of the brain's most important functions. Replicating the neocortex would result in "a computer that thinks like a person. Except it doesn’t have to eat or sleep," Vicarious co-founder Scott Phoenix told the paper.

“Vicarious is developing machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain. Our first technology is a visual perception system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans," reads Vicarious' website.

While Musk and Kutcher declined to comment on the investment, a Facebook spokesperson told the WSJ that Zuckerberg's involvement is “a personal one and does not reflect Facebook’s interest in using Vicarious software.”

[via BetaBeat]