Exploring Facebook’s “Deep Learning” Artificial Intelligence lab

A new hire by Facebook could change the state of virtual assistants and artificial intelligence forever.

New York University professor, Yann LeCun, is a renowned researcher in the ‘Deep Learning’ field – and has been tapped by Facebook to run their new AI lab with operations in Menlo Park, California, at the company’s headquarters; in London; and at Facebook’s new offices in New York City.

In a post on the social network giant this morning, LeCun wrote: “Facebook has created a new research laboratory with the ambitious, long-term goal of bringing about major advances in Artificial Intelligence.”

The concept with this next-generation of AI is to build a “neural network” which operates like the human brain – mimicking how it works to give more lifelike responses over an approach used by the likes of Google Search which analyzes large amounts of data to find an appropriate answer.

Of course, mimicking the brain is no small task. Recent advancements have been vastly insightful however; especially so by the likes of University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton – who has just recently joined the might of Google.

Yet it may in fact be Microsoft which is closest to a retail product in this field. The company has been strangely quiet over the past few years on any form of virtual assistant to rival competitor products - such as those offered by Apple and Google.

Speech’, found in Windows Phone, offers very basic functionality – but many users barely even know it exists. Its successor however; could be a different story…

Rumours (and strong hints by executives) point towards a Halo-inspired virtual assistant named ‘Cortana’ which offers human-like responses, will follow you across devices, and will undoubtedly be powered by Bing’s “Satori” knowledge graph.

Cortana is expected to launch alongside Windows Phone 8.1 or “Blue” in Q1 2014.

Andrew Ng, the Stanford researcher who founded Google’s deep learning project, said to Wired: “Machine learning is already used in hundreds of places throughout Facebook, ranging from photo tagging to ranking articles to your news feed.

Better machine learning will be able to help improve all of these features, as well as help Facebook create new applications that none of us have dreamed of yet.”

What do you think about ‘Deep Learning’ Artificial Intelligence?


The AI Expo world series brings together developers and enterprises to examine the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can drive business in 2017 and beyond. Find out more here.

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