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Facebook expands AI efforts into Seattle and Pittsburgh

In its global efforts to attract artificial intelligence researchers, the world's largest social network is opening new labs near The University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon.


AI is a key technology being increasingly used in products from Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and more.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook wants to flex its artificial intelligence muscle even more, and it's looking to university towns to help.

The social networking giant is opening two new offices in Seattle and Pittsburgh, The New York Times reported Friday and Facebook confirmed, as part of an expanded effort to attract AI researchers and experts. The two cities are close to The University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University, both of which are known for their AI research programs.

One thing Facebook hopes to make a standard in its labs is that those who come from academia will be able to continue their work at the school in addition to their efforts at Facebook.

"Professors gain a different type of experience in industry that can have a positive impact on their students and on their research," Yann LeCun, Facebook's director of AI research, said in a statement. "Conversely, their connection with industry helps produce new scientific advances that may be difficult to achieve in an academic environment, and helps turn those advances into practical technology."

Facebook has good reason for upping its efforts. Many of the company's announcements around privacy and security, its new programs to sort photos and videos (as well as add computer effects to them), and its many other initiatives are increasingly powered by AI. Facebook isn't alone either. Google, Apple and Amazon all are using AI to enhance their various products and apps.

Facebook's new AI labs will join existing ones in Silicon Valley, New York, Paris and Montreal.

First published May 4 at 4:53 p.m. PT.
Update at 8:03 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Facebook's director of AI research.

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