In the last few years, Facebook Inc. has expanded its scope far beyond the realm of social media, and today, Facebook has become one of the key players in recent push for artificial intelligence research. This week, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer outlined some of the company’s current research projects and the role AI plays in Facebook’s plans.
Facebook is currently focused on three main areas of research – connectivity, virtual reality and artificial intelligence – and according to Schroepfer, AI plays a role in everything Facebook is doing in each of these fields.
“Our work in AI is helping us move all these projects forward,” Schroepfer said. “We’re conducting industry-leading research to help drive advancements in AI disciplines like computer vision, language understanding and machine learning. We then use this research to build infrastructure that anyone at Facebook can use to build new products and services.”
“We’re also applying AI to help solve longer-term challenges as we push forward in the fields of connectivity and VR. And to accelerate the impact of AI, we’re tackling the furthest frontiers of research, such as teaching computers to learn like humans do — by observing the world.”
Facebook has quite a few connectivity projects in the works, including high-powered lasers that can transmit data across long distances with no cables required. These lasers, along with other connectivity technologies, will eventually make their way out into the world on Facebook’s massive Aquila drone (above), a solar-powered autonomous aircraft that is designed to fly continuously for months at a time without ever landing.
Aside from the the systems that keep Aquila up in the air, there are other connectivity projects that take advantage of AI, including Terragraph, a computer vision program that creates 3D city maps that can be used to better plan new infrastructure.
“As wireless networks become denser with increasing bandwidth demand, this automated solution lets us process more radio installation sites at a finer granularity,” Schroepfer explained.