According to Yann LeCun, Facebook’s chief AI scientist, the company is on track to double its Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) unit’s size in the course of the upcoming two years.
Currently, the division has nearly 180-200 staff. However, it is anticipated to grow to almost 400 individuals by 2020 amid Facebook ’s endeavor to integrate AI as a key part of its platforms.
“I don’t know everybody’s name anymore and I don’t recognize everybody either,” LeCun confirmed in an interview at Facebook’s New York-based office.
Asked whether Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) is likely to double in size in the coming years, LeCun said: “Yes, probably. That’s a pretty safe bet.”
Members of FAIR undertake vital research in the AI field. Also, some of their innovations are implemented into Facebook’s platforms such as Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook through an applied machine learning team among other engineers.
Nonetheless, most of the research they carry out is entirely academic. To date, these experts have come up with algorithms capable of not only analyzing MRI scans but also playing games such as Starcraft among other capabilities.
With the competition for artificial intelligence (AI) talent at an all-time high, Google and Facebook are involved in a fierce battle to recruit that smartest brains in this field.
On the other hand, other companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple are aiming to poach some of the best PhD students among other academics, a situation that is eliciting brain drain worries.
FAIR competes with DeepMind
Through FAIR, Facebook is recruiting many of these individuals. Google or its parent company Alphabet, on the other hand, is hiring such people via DeepMind and slightly through Google Brain. DeepMind’s team has grown from less than 100 to more than 700 since its acquisition by Google back in 2014 for £400 million.
When asked why Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) has not grown at a similar rate as other artificial intelligence (AI) labs, the Head of FAIR in New York Rob Fergus replied: It’s market supply.
We only really go for the very best people and there’s only so many of them on the market each year so there’s a limitation there. There are people who they [DeepMind] make offers to who we don’t. Of course, we do fight a lot. We have huge battles with them for the best talent. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.”