Facebook hires chief for new artificial intelligence lab

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

Topic: Social Enterprise


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • Something right up Farcebooks Alley.

    Artificial intelligence pretty much describes Marky-Poo and all his users.
  • Smart ...

    not enough companies are really working on creating the future. Too many have been settling for trying to protect their turf and settling for the Status Quo. Google and Microsoft definitely need to continue innovation (and keeping older products better updated).