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Facebook's adding to its AI college partnerships in London, Seattle and Pittsburgh

The world's largest social network is bringing academics into its worldwide offices in an effort to attract artificial intelligence researchers.

James Martin

Facebook is pushing forward with its AI research efforts, and it's looking to universities to help.

The social networking giant announced Tuesday that AI researchers were going to join its offices in London, Seattle and Menlo Park, in addition to a newly opened lab in Pittsburgh.

"You have to get the talent where it is," Yann LeCun, Facebook's director of AI research, said in a conference call last week with journalists. He noted that researchers often collaborate with the academics from other institutions and that Facebook in turn provides financial resources and hardware to work with.  

By working with researchers near their schools, like the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University for example, Facebook attracts more talent by offering researchers to continue their work in academia as well. "Not everyone wants to live wherever we have our main labs," LeCun said.

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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.

Researchers will be focusing on robotics, photography and computer vision, among other things.

"AI is an increasingly crucial part of Facebook's operation," LeCun said, adding that for example Facebook is increasingly using robots to help manage its data centers. "Our role as a research lab is to anticipate the trends and changes in technology."

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