Facebook looks inward for new AI technical talent

The race is on to attract as much expertise in artificial intelligence as possible at tech companies large and small, and more than a few Silicon Valley giants are looking inward to convert tech talent they already possess into the AI resources they increasingly need. Facebook has its own AI course, which is oversubscribed, according to a new report by Wired, and which is led by one of the leading AI researchers in the world.

Facebook’s Larry Zitnick, who is a key leader at the social networking company’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, as well as a Microsoft Research and CMU Robotics alum, teaches a class on deep learning for Facebook employees that draws over-capacity crowds. Zitnick’s course sparks strong competition among engineers who already rank among the best in the world, each vying to come to grips with and excel at a field outside of their original purview, but one that few fail to recognize is the hottest in tech.

On the other hand, AI and deep learning increasingly touch all aspects of the technology business, so experts with understanding of where the overlap might prove most useful in their own original discipline are also going to be very much in demand. There are external efforts underway to help create more of these polyglot deep learning pros, including at online educational firms like Udacity, but new talent isn’t rolling in fast enough from outside sources, traditional and non-traditional alike.

Facebook also offers an AI immersion program, which embeds prospects within the work it’s doing in the field. The goal, again, is to spread expertise across the company, and thread deep learning know-how into the organization’s very DNA. Expect this to be the rule for big tech company behavior for the foreseeable future.