Facebook has opened an artificial intelligence laboratory in Paris, France — its third — as the race is on to build smarter machines that can make better sense of our huge amounts of data.
Back in March, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer identified artificial intelligence as one of the social network’s three big bets on the future.
The problem: Facebook’s more than 1 billion users are putting more pictures, video, and stuff on the platform than we can keep track of, he said.
Artificial intelligence, also called machine learning, can help Facebook automatically process all of that data and make it more useful to users (and, potentially, advertisers). If Facebook has an algorithm to detect what’s in a photo or video, it can sort it more efficiently.
To that end, Facebook AI Research (FAIR) has opened this Paris office to recruit “some of the best researchers in the world,” as Facebook AI Director Yann LeCun says in a blog entry. The other two offices are in New York and Silicon Valley’s Menlo Park.
“It’s our hope that this research will ultimately help us make services like News Feed, photos, and search even better and enable an entirely new set of ways to connect and share,” LeCun writes.
In that blog post, LeCun promises that the FAIR Paris team will work both with those other two offices and with European AI teams to share and disseminate the research it produces.
There’s an artificial intelligence arms race a-brewing: Google is building a lot of machine learning features into the next version of Android to make its Google Now feature more useful without the need to switch apps, and Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant is supposed to get smarter the more you use it.
Facebook’s investment in and expansion of FAIR is just a preview of what comes next when we start building smarter machines.