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Facebook's top AI scientist says it's 'dust' without artificial intelligence

Without artificial intelligence there wouldn't be much left of Facebook as we know it today.That's ac...

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 5:48 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 5:48 PM

Without artificial intelligence there wouldn't be much left of Facebook as we know it today.

That's according to Yann LeCun, who founded Facebook's artificial intelligence research lab five years ago.

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"If you take the deep learning out of Facebook today, Facebook's dust," LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist, recently told CNN Business. "It's entirely built around it now."

The technology is included in everything from the posts and translations you see in your news feed to advertisements.

When LeCun established the lab, Facebook was already dabbling in deep learning — a type of machine learning he's worked on and championed since the 1980s. Deep-learning software, modeled after the way neurons work in the brain, ingests loads of data and learns to make its own predictions.

Back in 2013 , the social network knew AI would be a key part of its future, and like a number of other tech companies, it looked at deep learning specifically for classifying photos and for face recognition.

While it appeared promising, it wasn't clear how useful it would be. But years later, aided by loads of data collected from users and increasingly powerful computers, the technology has improved rapidly. Facebook and other companies — such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon — are using it for many different things, such as tagging people in photos and enabling virtual assistants to tell you the weather.

LeCun said the social network in particular couldn't function today without deep learning. It's used "absolutely everywhere," he said.

This is true not just of what users can see but what they may not see. Deep learning aids Facebook's content filtering, too, and helps remove things like hate speech from the social network.

But Facebook's AI efforts have been met with criticism, too. For example, the company is turning to AI to help alert human moderators to hate speech shared on the platform, but plenty of these posts are able to slip through cracks of the system. While deep learning and other AI methods are evolving, it could take years for AI to excel at moderating content.

Despite the technology's increasing capabilities, however, LeCun stresses AI is nowhere close to what he likes to call a "Terminator scenario," during which robots would take over.

Sure, it can beat humans at games like Go, but we're still far from creating what's known as artificial general intelligence. This type of AI can do human-like tasks and has enough common sense to help out in daily life rather than just performing fairly scripted tasks like Amazon's Alexa does today.

LeCun said even extraordinarily AI systems won't have the same drive to do the things humans do unless that's built into them.

"The desire to dominate is not correlated with intelligence," he said. "In fact, we have many examples of this ... in the world. It's not the smartest of us that necessarily wants to be the chief."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 727764

Reported Deaths: 13397
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion995211738
Lake53461965
Allen40457675
St. Joseph35506550
Hamilton35489408
Elkhart28433441
Tippecanoe22359218
Vanderburgh22284396
Porter18668307
Johnson17905377
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Madison12592339
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Grant7027174
Wayne7026199
Boone6679101
Morgan6555139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6005111
Dearborn579277
Cass5788105
Henry5688103
Noble558883
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Gibson434692
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1081518

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1256551400
Cuyahoga1117782115
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Montgomery513291014
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Tuscarawas8470244
Erie7871154
Hancock6906127
Ross6842155
Ashtabula6792170
Geauga6677148
Scioto6405101
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Union570348
Lawrence5546102
Jefferson5521151
Huron5427119
Darke5347123
Sandusky5337120
Seneca5275121
Athens518858
Washington5153109
Auglaize489584
Mercer480385
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Knox4483110
Madison435561
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Preble379398
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Hocking215262
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Morgan108323
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