By teaching a computer to think, Facebook hopes to better understand how its users do too. So today the company announced that one of the world’s leading deep learning and machine learning scientists, NYU’s Professor Yann LeCun, will lead its new artificial intelligence laboratory.
MIT Technology Review first reported that Facebook would launch an Artificial Intelligence lab back in September, but now it has something of a celebrity scientist at its helm. Facebook’s AI research will be split across its Menlo Park headquarters, London office, and a new AI lab built just a block from NYU’s campus in Manhattan.
LeCun has been pioneering artificial intelligence breakthroughs since the 1980s when he developed an early version of the “back-propagation algorithm” that became the top way to train artificial neural networks. He went on to work for AT&T Bell Laboratories where he created the “convolutional network model” that mimics the visual cortex of living beings to create a pattern recognition system for machines. This model was used for optical character recognition and handwriting recognition that powered how many banks read checks in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
LeCun’s expertise is in “deep learning” speech and image recognition systems has driven his research in building visual navigation systems for self-driving cars, autonomous ground robots, drones, and more.
Now, LeCun’s knowledge could help Facebook determine exactly what people want to see in their News Feeds, how they want to organize their photos, and possibly more exotic projects.