Blog Post

12 December 2013

Facebook Makes Giant Leap For Artificial Intelligence


photo credit: Chris Devers via photopin cc

Facebook is advancing research on artificial intelligence, according to a report.

The social networking giant has hired Yann LeCun to lead a group of scientists in a long-term commitment to create major advances in the field of AI.

LeCun, professor of computer and neural sciences at NYU, announced the company’s plans for a new AI research laboratory in a post on his Facebook and Google+ accounts.

He said that Facebook and the NYU’s Center for Data Science inked a deal to forward research in artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, CTO Michael Schroepfer, and LeCun were at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference in Lake Tahoe on Monday. And Zuckerberg announced the new research laboratory and the partnership during NIPS Workshop on Deep Learning later that day.

Though surrounded with fervor on his new position as Facebook’s AI team head, LeCun said he plans to still teach and work at NYU.

The social network first formed the AI team of eight members in September. But during the company’s third quarter earning call in October, Zuckerberg hinted that the project’s goal is to carry out new methods in AI technology to learn and understand all shared content on the platform. Facebook plans to give new insights to address issues and answer questions from people.

A long-term commitment to the project will give rise to services that provide a more natural interaction and will solve more snags than existing technologies, Zuckerberg added.

Facebook is not the only one busy with AI projects, however, as Google started its own endeavor at an earlier time. Last year, the online search giant hired renowned AI research scientist Ray Kurzweil to lead its deep-learning and AI and projects.

Some analysts think Facebook and Google – and other tech firms that will try to catch up – will eventually race with each other to find potential acquisitions and hire top talents in the AI field.

As it deals with nearly billions of daily active users who share a growing number of content on the social network, Facebook’s vision of an artificial intelligence that can crawl, decipher, and gain better insight into its trove of data is valuable.

The company regularly highlights its efforts to show the right content and ads to the right audience. AI may provide a solution for more targeted content and ads.

LeCun said Facebook’s new AI Group will have offices in Menlo Park, CA; London, UK; and New York City, a block from NYU’s main campus.