Facebook's New AI Lab In Montreal
Written by Sue Gee   
Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Facebook is opening its fourth artificial intelligence research lab in Montreal. FAIR Montreal will start with ten researchers, growing to 30 in the coming year and Joelle Pineau has been appointed to head it.

The announcement made by Yann LeCun states:

As part of Facebook AI Research (FAIR), this new team will join more than 100 scientists across Menlo Park, New York, and Paris in working to advance the field of artificial intelligence. The Montreal lab will house research scientists and engineers working on a wide range of ambitious AI research projects, but it will also have a special focus on reinforcement learning and dialog systems.

He goes on to introduce Professor Joelle Pineau, who is currently co-director of the Reasoning and Learning Lab at McGill University:

Dr. Pineau’s previous research has focused on developing new algorithms for planning and learning and then applying them to complex problems in robotics, health care, games, and conversational agents.

 joelle pineau

Pineau, who will maintain her academic position at McGill and continue with her own reseach projects, one of which is developing a robotic whhelchair, in addition to building the FAIR Montreal team, commented:

"For many years, I have seen a steady stream of talented AI researchers with Masters and PhDs from our universities move to the U.S. to find the best research jobs. They will now have an opportunity to do this right here in Montreal." 

Explaining Facebook's choice of Montreal for its first investment in Canada, LeCun says:

Montreal already has an existing fantastic academic AI community, an exciting ecosystem of startups, and promising government policies to encourage AI research. We are excited to become part of this larger community, and we look forward to engaging with the entire ecosystem and helping it continue to thrive.

Lasr year we reported Google Expands AI Research In Montreal, noting that in addition to funding MILA, the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms headed by Yoshua Bengio, it had announced the formation of an in-house deep learning and AI research group in the city. Microsoft has also has established an AI research facility in Montreal this year while Uber is building a new artificial intelligence team in Toronto to help improve its autonomous vehicle software. 

We have already seen Facebook collaborating with companies that might be considered the competition as part of an effort to democratize AI and to promote AI for the benefit in the Partnership On AI, a non-profit formed by Google/DeepMind, Microrosft, Amazon, IBM and Facebook in September 2016:

to advance public understanding of artificial intelligence technologies and formulate best practices on the challenges and opportunities AI presents.

Having AI hubs where researchers can readily engage with each other seems like a welcome idea and the Canadian Government and the provincial Quebec  government have both pledged funding specifically for AI research and expertise in the region.   

More Information

Expanding Facebook AI Research to Montreal

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 October 2017 )