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Facebook Starts AI Research
By: Jessica Cherok
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Facebook wants to understand you better. To do so, they’ve compiled an internal research team to use deep learning (a fancy way of saying artificial intelligence) to better understand what you and the 700 million other Facebook users are really saying in your posts.

Deep learning isn’t a concept exclusive to Facebook. The AI is basically a simulated network that responds to data the same way your brain does. In essence, deep learning allows the technology to read between the lines of what is explictly stated in texts versus the emotional nuances underneath.

Facebook hopes to use the AI to improve its News Feed, as well as improve ad targeting. The company has long been working on ways to improve these features, especially since they receive a mind-boggling amount of data.

Both Google and Microsoft has also started research into what deep learning can do for their companies, respectively. According to a Technology Review article:

Facebook’s foray into deep learning sees it following its competitors Google and Microsoft, which have used the approach to impressive effect in the past year. Google has hired and acquired leading talent in the field, and last year created software that taught itself to recognize cats and other objects by reviewing stills from YouTube videos. The underlying deep learning technology was later used to slash the error rate of Google’s voice recognition services.

Researchers at Microsoft have used deep learning to build a system that translates speech from English to Mandarin Chinese in real time (see “Microsoft Brings Star Trek’s Voice Translator to Life”).

The impact of the AI project on Facebook is still a long way off. The process and technical capacity are still quite cumbersome and slow moving. Still, a more intuitive Facebook — one that thinks like its users — will be something interesting, indeed.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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