Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is currently hiring five well-known computer scientists in the U.S. and Europe, adding new facilities to bolster its artificial intelligence research division, and increasing focus on robotics and related-technologies.
Facebook, which is in a race with other large tech firms to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence and apply these breakthroughs to its products, claimed that it was hiring researchers in Menlo Park, California, as well as in Pittsburgh, Seattle and London.
Facebook’s AI Research division (FAIR) is now hiring Abhinav Gupta and Jessica Hodgins, both professors at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, to lead a new lab in the city focusing on robotics. Facebook has not been at the lead of robotic research. However, Facebook’s chief AI scientist, Yann LeCun, stated that having a robotics program was important for recruiting the most potential young scientists and engineers to the company. He also states, “We can’t attract other researchers without having research in this area.”
Researchers at Facebook have created a program recently aimed at AI being able to find objects in your house. The tech company has also patented a self-balancing robot. According to LeCun, Facebook is currently using a few robots to help maintain some of its data centers. Facebook’s more demanding challenge is to use AI in order to help manage the huge amount of content on its platforms. While many technology companies like Alphabet Inc., Twitter Inc., and Amazon Inc. have been working on getting machines to understand languages better, improvements in this specific area is considered very important for Facebook.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the U.S. Congress that eventually AI should be able to help police such content, but today machine’s ability to understand language, and its context, are too limited.
The intensity of the war for AI talent has helped drive salaries for top researchers to record levels, with some of the best-known academics able to secure multi-million-dollar, multi-year contracts. There are some cases where technology companies have raided entire academic departments, like when Uber in 2015 hired 50 researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics lab., which was 1/3 of the workface. LeCun claims that working in robotics was important for exploring ways to make the robots learn more efficient and work better for real world applications. He states “We would like to figure out how to train machines without having to have them interact with humans for thousands of hours. We think research in complex robotics will lead to advances there.”