France has many hidden gems, and Facebook is well-aware of that. The company is building a new artificial intelligence research team in Paris in order to work on ambitious futuristic projects. The new team will work closely with existing Facebook AI Research (FAIR) teams in Menlo Park and New York on image recognition, natural language processing, speech recognition, machine learning, live translating tools and more.
But why isn’t the company simply expanding existing teams in Menlo Park and New York? There are a couple of reasons behind this choice. First, France has a lot of incredibly talented researchers — it is one of the leading countries when it comes to math, physics and robotics research. Many Fields medalists have been working for French public universities.
But this is also one of France’s weaknesses. If you are truly passionate about scientific research, you can work for a public lab and be surrounded with many bright people. But don’t expect to earn a lot of money as French scientists usually earn a lot less than what they deserve. That’s why some of them choose to move to the U.S. or the U.K., while others look for jobs in the private sector.
Finally, FAIR head Yann Le Cun is a French researcher for the New York University. That might have played a role in deciding to build a FAIR team in Paris. The company plans to hire research professionals, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. In particular, Facebook has signed an agreement with French AI research institute INRIA.
Artificial intelligence is going to become a key area for Facebook. It’s a great way to build smarter products, boost engagement with existing products, add features and learn more about Facebook users. Six researchers are already working on FAIR in Paris, and the team will double by the end of the year.