Facebook AI Lab in Pittsburgh Could Mean Millions in Funding for Carnegie Mellon University

The lab will focus on robotics, systems that learn continuously, teaching machines to reason and how AI can improve creativity.

by Aaron Aupperlee, The Tribune-Review / July 18, 2018
A smartphone with the Facebook logo lying on a keyboard. As Facebook confronts a scandal over data privacy in the United States and Britain, it faces widening criticism in Asia for stoking discord in countries with few legal protections for religious, ethnic and political minorities. (Oliver Berg/DPA/Zuma Press/TNS) TNS

(TNS) — Carnegie Mellon University could see an increase of millions of dollars of funding for research in artificial intelligence from Facebook, the company’s head of AI research said in a blog post Tuesday.

Facebook hired two of CMU’s top AI and robotics researchers to lead its newest artificial intelligence lab in Pittsburgh.

The two researchers will work part-time for Facebook and continue their work at CMU. The partnership will put the university inline for some serious funding. Yann LeCun, Facebook’s chief AI scientist, wrote that the company plans to support research by graduate students and professors at the school from which it has hired with millions in funding.

“This allows the professors to spend less time fundraising for their labs and more time working with their students,” LeCun wrote in the blog post.

Facebook announced the creation of an AI lab in Pittsburgh in May. Jessica Hodgins and Abhinav Gupta, both professors of robotics and computer science at CMU, will split time at the lab and at the university.

The Facebook lab will focus on robotics, systems that learn continuously, teaching machines to reason and how AI can improve creativity. Hodgins, the former vice president for research at Disney Research and the head of Disney’s former lab at CMU, will focus on computer graphics, animation and robotics, emphasizing on human motion, LeCun wrote. Hodgins will work with the Oculus development lab Facebook established in Oakland in 2015.

Facebook renamed its Oculus research centers Facebook Reality Labs in May. Yaser Sheikh leads the Facebook Reality Lab in Pittsburgh and continues to work at CMU, where he is an associate professor of robotics.

Gupta will focus on large-scale visual and robotic learning, self-supervised learning and reasoning.

Andrew Moore, dean of CMU’s School of Computer Science, said both will continue to educate the next generation of AI and robotics scientists at CMU.

“Facebook’s new lab will create new opportunities to make advances in AI, both at the company and at CMU,” Moore said in a statement.

A Facebook spokesman could not be more specific on how much or what type of funding CMU could receive. LeCun noted in his blog post that Facebook recently upped the number of doctoral fellows with its AI lab in Paris from 15 to 40, granted new scholarships for students and funded 10 servers for French public institutions.

Facebook has AI research labs in Pittsburgh, Seattle, New York, London Paris, Montreal, Tel Aviv and Menlo Park, Calif.

©2018 The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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