NYU Professor Joins Facebook's Aritificial Intelligence Team
December 10, 2013

NYU Professor Joins Facebook’s Aritificial Intelligence Team

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Facebook is delving into deep learning with the hire of NYU professor Yann LeCun as director of the new AI Group lab at the social networking company. Facebook and New York University's Center for Data Science will work cooperatively on research in data science, machine learning and AI.

LeCun wrote about his new position at Facebook on Monday, and the new lab, as well as the hire of LeCun, were announced at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference in Lake Tahoe on Monday, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, CTO Michael Schroepfer, and LeCun were in attendance.

The new AI group will conduct research and advancements in deep learning. Deep learning is an area of science that involves the research and development of artificial intelligence through algorithms in machine learning.

Facebook's new AI group will have multiple locations, including one in the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, CA, as well as London, UK, and Facebook's new facility in New York City. LeCun called Facebook's new research arm ambitious, saying it has the long-term goal of making major advances in artificial intelligence.

Professor LeCun will remain as professor at NYU on a part-time basis, where he will continue research and teaching activities -- a relatively easy task since it is only one block from Facebook's New York City outpost.

LeCun is a prominent figure in the AI community, which is generally an area often referred to as deep learning, Wired reports. "The movement began in the academic world, but is now spreading to the giants of the web, including not only Facebook but Google, companies that are constantly looking for new means of building services that can interact with people more like the way we interact with each other. Google is already using deep learning techniques to help analyze and respond to voice commands on its Android mobile operating system," Cade Metz, of Wired, wrote.

Deep learning uses programming that allows computers to think more like humans, rather than using algorithms, which are strictly computer problems.

"With deep learning, the basic idea is to build machines that actually operate like the human brain — as opposed to creating systems that merely take a shortcut to solving problems that have traditionally required human intelligence," Cade wrote.

Stanford researcher Andrew NG, who founded Google's deep learning project known as the Google Brain, called Facebook's hire of LeCun a natural fit, according to Wired. "Yann LeCun's move will be an exciting step both for machine learning and for Facebook," he was quoted by Wired as saying.

Facebook already deploys deep learning to some degree, but hopes to advance its efforts.

"Machine learning is already used in hundreds of places throughout Facebook, ranging from photo tagging to ranking articles to your news feed. Better machine learning will be able to help improve all of these features, as well as help Facebook create new applications that none of us have dreamed of yet," NG said in the Wired piece.