Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook names NYU scientist to lead centre for artificial intelligence

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 9:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 3:37am

Facebook has unveiled plans for a partnership with New York University to create a new centre for artificial intelligence, aimed at harnessing the huge social network's massive trove of data.

The California-based tech giant has named Professor Yann LeCun of NYU's Centre for Data Science to head up the project.

"As one of the most respected thinkers in this field, Yann has done groundbreaking research in deep learning and computer vision," Facebook's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, said.

Facebook is building the team across three locations - New York, London and its headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

The lab will work on "machine learning", a branch of artificial intelligence that involves computers "learning" to extract knowledge from giant data sets.

LeCun, a French-born mathematician and computer scientist, said he was pleased to head up the project 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," LeCun wrote.

He will remain a professor at New York University on a part-time basis.

Facebook chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke of the plans in October when discussing the company's quarterly earnings.

He said a working group was formed in September "to do world-class artificial intelligence research using all of the knowledge that people have shared on Facebook".

"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 said at the time.

He added that one of the goals was "to build services that are much more natural to interact with and can help solve many more problems than any existing technology today".