Facebook Steps Up Artificial-Intelligence Efforts With New Research Lab

Published on December 9, 2013
by Mike Isaac


Yann LeCun/

Facebook is diving headlong into AI.

The company plans to launch expand its research laboratory dedicated entirely to artificial intelligence, and has hired New York University professor Yann LeCun to spearhead the effort.

The goal, according to LeCun, is long-term: To bring about major advances in the field, while doubling down in a research partnership with NYU to intensely study machine learning, data science and artificial intelligence.

The news of the hire, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to announce at an industry conference on Monday, comes courtesy of LeCun himself, who posted his new position at Facebook to his Google+ and Facebook pages (thanks, Yann!). LeCun plans to continue working and teaching at NYU, as well.

“The new AI Group at Facebook will have locations in Menlo Park, CA, in London, UK, and at Facebook’s new facility in New York City, one block away from NYU’s main campus,” LeCun wrote.

The initiative comes as Google also steps up its efforts in the artificial-intelligence field. Last year, the search giant hired leading AI research scientist (and dyed-in-the-wool futurist) Ray Kurzweil to head its AI and deep-learning efforts. Facebook likely plans to continue snooping out potential acquisitions or new hires in the space, according to sources — just as Google continues to do.

As one person familiar with the matter put it: “I expect an arms race between Google Brain, Facebook AI Group and other tech companies that will desperately try to keep up.”

In that vein, LeCun said that Facebook’s new lab group — which has been in the works for some time, but is only now opening up more widely — is currently on the lookout to hire new talent.

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