Facebook has hired Yann LeCun, founding director of New York University’s Centre for Data Science, to be at the helm of Facebook’s new AI research centres. LeCun made the announcement on Facebook’s blog Tuesday, adding that the Centre for Data Science and Facebook are entering into a partnership to explore the potential of machine learning and AI.
“Big news today! Facebook has created a new research laboratory with the ambitious, long-term goal of bringing about major advances in Artificial Intelligence. I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted the position of director of this new lab,” began LeCun’s announcement. LeCun will remain at NYU on a part-time basis.
The announcement was made from Lake Tahoe, where LeCun was attending a conference in neural information processing systems with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and CTO Michael Schroepfer. The Facebook AI Group will have new facilities near the main campus of NYU, where LeCun will be based. Additional locations will include London, UK, and Menlo Park, CA.
LeCun is acknowledged as being a leader in the emerging field of deep learning, which, in the simplest terms, teaches machines to think like humans. The movement is spreading beyond academia, attracting the attention of internet giants like Google and Facebook. These companies, along with Microsoft and Yahoo, are all angling to bring in top brains to explore how machines can interact more naturally with humans. Google, for example, has incorporated deep learning methods into the Android mobile system to parse and respond to voice commands.
“The goal here is to use new approaches in AI to help make sense of all the content that people share so we can generate new insights about the world to answer people’s questions,” Zuckerberg commented when the AI lab plans were announced in September. “Over time, I think it’s going to be possible to build services that are much more natural to interact with and can help solve many more problems than any existing technology today.”
With machine intelligence interpreting images and sentences like humans, internet services promise to become much more intuitive and lead to as yet undreamed-of applications.