Inria in partnership with the new Facebook AI Lab in Paris
The social network has announced the opening of an artificial intelligence research facility in the French capital. This will be the third such laboratory and the first in Europe, the others being in New York and California. The opening of the laboratory also marks the start of a strategic partnership with Inria.
On the 2nd of June, the Californian group led by Mark Zuckerberg announced the opening of their first laboratory outside the USA. The laboratory will be known as Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) and will be based in Paris, initially sharing the company’s French head office on the Avenue de Wagram in the 17tharrondissement. This is the third artificial intelligence research centre to be established by Facebook, following those in Menlo Park, California and New York. The laboratory will be led by Florent Perronnin , from the Xerox Research Center, reporting to Yann LeCun , one of the world’s most eminent scientists in the field of artificial intelligence who joined Facebook at eth end of 2013. A partnership has been set up between FAIR and Inria, enabling the two organisations to work together on jointly selected upstream research projects.
Facebook chose Paris as the site of FAIR because of "the excellence demonstrated by France in these fields of research and the attractiveness of Paris". The company continues, “In setting up FAIR, Facebook is confirming its desire to build close links with the French research community, to support first class scientific institutions such as Inria, and to open up new opportunities for researchers, PhD students and post-docs. We believe that this open model will generate innovative results, encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas, and help us achieve our goals more quickly ".
According to Facebook, the new FAIR laboratory will work in an open and collaborative manner on long-term research projects in the fields of automatic language processing (ALP), language recognition, and the software and hardware infrastructures needed for artificial intelligence systems. "We hope that the results of this research will help us to improve our services such as news feeds, image classification and the search function, and offer totally new ways of connecting and sharing ".
A promising collaboration
"The opening of the new Facebook research laboratory in Paris is excellent news for the entire French scientific community ", comments François Sillion , Deputy CEO for Science at Inria, "It is by building strong links with this type of laboratory that our scientists can focus their research on the most up-to-date questions and concrete problems facing businesses at the forefront of the digital world. We have already identified a number of promising avenues for our research collaboration. One of the advantages of this partnership will be the ability to test ideas and algorithms on complex real datasets across large networks ".
AI and machine learning
The research topics identified in conjunction with Inria are all based on artificial intelligence, with particular emphasis on machine learning. Three main avenues of research have been identified, explains François Sillion, "The first relates to techniques of machine learning. Facebook needs to be able to seek out relevant information in order to bring its members together. For Inria, the potential applications are more wide ranging. All types of businesses accumulate vast quantities of data. Machine learning techniques can be used to help in making decisions. For example, in medicine it is now possible to extract meaningful data by combining information from a large number of individual patients. The second avenue of research relates directly to images and video. Facebook requires the ability to recognise objects, people and behaviour in videos and images. Finally, the third research topic is automatic language processing ".
FAIR currently has a staff of around half a dozen researchers, including Hervé Jégou from Inria Rennes, a specialist in computer vision. Eventually, the laboratory intends to employ up to 50 staff, of whom half will be permanent researchers.