Facebook opens AI lab in Paris

Facebook is opening a new artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Paris to expand its research outside the US, it was announced on Tuesday.

The Paris team will work on “ambitious long-term research projects” alongside the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) teams in Menlo Park and New York.

They will focus on image recognition, natural language processing and speech recognition, including the physical and logical infrastructure required to run the AI systems.

Yann LeCun, who heads up Facebook’s AI research, wrote in a blog post announcing the move that the company planned to work openly with and invest in the AI research community in France, the EU and beyond.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Le Cun has been at the heart of AI, known as deep learning, since the 1980s when he and a small group of researchers worked on building networks of computer hardware that approximate the networks of neurons in the brain.

Big tech giants like Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft have taken great interest in AI over the years and have used it from voice and image recognition to language translation.

Facebook currently uses deep learning as a way of recognising images on its social network and it is experimenting with the technology to curate imagery that would personalise the Facebook News Feed to make it more enjoyable.

“Our work in AI research is still relatively early. But we've built a terrific team and have already made some encouraging progress and we're excited to see where this work takes us and what it will allow us to build for the people we serve,” Facebook said.

AI is one of three pillars of investment for the social network company, alongside virtual reality and connectivity.

Initially, six research scientists will be based in the Paris lab, growing to 12 by the end of the year.

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