Facebook hires chief for new artificial intelligence lab

Summary:One of the leading world experts on cognition, learning and convolutional networks is the new head of AI at the social networking company.

Facebook has taken on one of the leading experts in learning and computing to lead the company's Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab.

Professor Yann LeCun of New York University where he has been working on the science of "deep learning" and in fields like "back-propogation" — a method of training artificial neural networks.

In September, Facebook announced that it was setting up an AI lab to look at various issues. For Facebook, a better understanding of AI could help deepen its understanding of why people are drawn towards certain news stories, read news in particular ways, or move between news and other information frequently and apparently randomly.

The appointment of  LeCun is part-time so that he can continue in his current role with NYU.

Simultaneously, Facebook and New York University's Center for Data Science are entering a partnership to carry out research in data science, machine learning, and AI.

The new AI Group at Facebook will be located in London and Menlo Park, California as well as on the NYU campus, LeCun said. He confirmed that the company was also hiring more staff, but he did not give a number.

LeCun has pioneered in AI since the 1980s. He was an exponent of the "back-propogation algorithm" which was first developed in the 1960s before falling out of favour and returning in the 1990s where it became the leading way to train neural networks.

After that LeCun went to work at Bell Labs where he created the "convolutional network model" that helps to create pattern recognition systems that machines can use. 

Further reading

Topics: Social Enterprise


Colin has been a computer journalist for some 30 years having started in the business the same year that the IBM PC was launched, although the first piece he wrote was about computer audit. He was at one time editor of Computing magazine in London and prior to that held a number of editing jobs, including time spent at the late DEC Compu... Full Bio

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