Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has hired New York University professor Yann LeCun to run the artificial intelligence laboratory it unveiled a few months ago. The professor made the announcement on a Facebook post (spotted by Business Insider), saying he will be heading up the lab on a part time basis, teaching part time and also overseeing the partnership between his university’s Center for Data Science and Facebook.
Facebook jumps on the AI train
According to LeCun’s post, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s new AI group will have facilities in Menlo Park, Calif., where its headquarters is located, and New York City a block away from NYU’s main campus. He said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Technology Officer Michael Schroepfer would join him to make the formal announcement on Monday at the NIPS Workshop on Deep Learning.
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Facebook isn’t the only company jumping on the artificial intelligence bandwagon. AI involves teaching computers to think and logically deduct things in a way similar to how humans do it. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently partnered with NASA and showed off its impressive Quantum AI Lab. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) also got in on the action with the development of its Watson computer. Yahoo! and Microsoft are also making progress in the AI field.
What LeCun’s done so far
It’s pretty clear why Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) would want someone like LeCun overseeing its partnership and AI lab. According to Business Insider, the professor has long been building computers which are able to think. Banks all over the globe use the handwriting recognition tech he developed. He also worked with Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist from the University of Toronto, to develop a way for computers to actually teach themselves through an idea they call “unsupervised learning.” (Is anyone else worried about what these super-smart computers are doing “unsupervised”? Maybe it’s just the sci-fi nut in me.) Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) actually hired Hinton earlier this year.
Of course after unsupervised learning, we now have the development of AI technology called “deep learning.” Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) bought startup LookFlow, which is known for image recognition technology in deep learning. The startup company will be apparently developing a new AI group similar to what these other companies have as well.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is taking on yet another aspect of deep learning: speech recognition technology.