Facebook opens AI research lab in Paris, first outside US

3 Jun 2015

Facebook is expanding its artificial intelligence research by opening a Paris-based lab — its first outside the US.

Facebook’s AI research programme, which launched in 2013, currently straddles the States, with a dedicated team spread between labs in New York and Menlo Park, California.

According to the BBC, the Paris team – six research scientists initially, growing to 12 within the year – will work on long-term projects, including natural-language processing and speech and image recognition.

Yann LeCun, head of Facebook’s AI research, explained to the BBC that the rationale behind choosing Paris as the European AI hub was a simple matter of the French capital’s high concentration of AI researchers.

Facebook has taken an increased interest in AI in recent years. The company has, and says it will continue to, publish all findings publicly to allow for an open approach to AI development.

The AI overlords

For those of you who take every AI announcement with a pinch of dread, and who are envisaging a post-apocalyptic, Terminator-esque future, Facebook’s CTO, Mike Schroepfer, says there’s absolutely no need to worry.

Speaking to the BBC, Schroepfer said the threat was overblown, and that “human-level AI is very far down the line – it will be several decades”.

Somewhat less reassuring, however, is Schroepfer’s assertion that this gives the AI community and the tech industry plenty of time to work out the ethics of it all – something that doesn’t feel like it should be an afterthought.

Paris image, via Shutterstock

Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic