Facebook taps NYU professor to chase AI dream


Facebook has announced that it has taken on board New York University (NYU) professor Yann LeCun, who will lead the company's new lab that is dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning.

Facebook made the announcement on Monday December 9, via a post on its website.

"Some exciting news: Yann LeCun has joined Facebook to lead our newly formed AI Group!" revealed Facebook Academics.

LeCun, who is one of the leading deep learning machine scientists, will be the director of the laboratory.

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

Facebook is hoping that teaching a computer to think, it will be able to have a better understanding of how users think as well. The company will be building a team in three locations namely Menlo Park, California; New York City and London.

LeCun who has been chosen to head the AI initiative is currently a professor at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He is counted as a pioneer in this evolving field and is known for proposing one of the most popular methods for training artificial neural networks in the 1980s.

"Big news today! Facebook has created a new research laboratory 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. I will remain a professor at New York University on a part-time basis, and will maintain research and teaching activities at 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," said Yann LeCun via a Facebook post.

For the uninitiated, machine learning is a branch of AI which requires that computers learn to extract knowledge from data sets and then analyzing the same, as well as predicting outcomes.

LeCun is renowned as a leading scientist in "deep learning" - which is a branch of machine learning where researchers look to replicate a human's visual and auditory systems. The idea is that machines are built to operate like the human brain.

Several companies like Google, IBM, Microsoft etc. deploy deep learning methods for a plethora of apps, which includes voice and image recognition

LeCun is set to begin his tenure with Facebook from January 1, 2014.

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