Facebook has opened an AI lab in its Paris to an effort to make its online social network smarter and more profitable. The social networking giant says that it plans to use AI to research through the flood of text, pictures and videos on its service.
The social networking giant has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence and has set up a program called Facebook AI Research. The company already has artificial intelligence research teams in Menlo Park and in New York. The new Paris AI lab has six researchers at work and will double that number by year-end. Facebook says that the recruits for the lab will come from France's top public and private technological institutions. Facebook has hired Yann LeCun, a prominent French professor at New York University specializing in "deep learning" algorithm to head the lab. The AI applications would help to "eliminate spam and, eventually, violent videos" as well as open up new advertising avenues for Facebook. The company reportedly has doubled its European users since 2010 and has more users in Europe than in the US.
All major tech companies have been investing in artificial intelligence over the past few years. Rival Google also began an AI partnership with Oxford University in Britain in 2013. It acquired AI startup Deep Mind last year for more than $500 million. The company specializes in machine learning and describes itself as a developer of "cutting-edge artificial intelligence" that can learn for itself. Google also showed off a new digital assistant called Now on Tap at its recent I/O developer conference. Facebook said in a statement, "We chose Paris for this expansion because France is home to some of the best researchers in the world." Facebook plans to work with a team of researchers in Paris and says it plans to "work openly with and invest in the AI research community in France, the EU, and beyond as we strive to make meaningful progress in these fields. It's our hope that this research will ultimately help us make services like News Feed, photos and search even better and enable an entirely new set of ways to connect and share," the company said.
Facebook also announced a new feature that allows users to add PGP-encrypted keys to their profile. The new encryption would conceal messages and passwords from email services like Gmail and Yahoo, which regularly scan user inboxes for ad-targeting purposes. Users who use PGP to encrypt their email have two keys- a private key that they keep to themselves and the other is a public key that's given to anyone who wants to send them encrypted mail. Messages are encrypted using the public key but they can only be decrypted using the private key, so users will get an end-to-end encrypted email that only they can read.
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