The interaction between machines and people is expected to become more lucid and personalized as Artificial Intelligence tools become more advanced and learn to adapt to the dynamic environment around us. This makes AI one of the most compelling advanced technologies for company like Facebook, Inc. (FB), whose primary mode of exchange with people is through technology.
Facebook has shown a steady commitment to integrating AI across its services to enhance and enable superior customer engagements. Here is a look at how Facebook is working with AI.
With a vision that "artificial intelligence can play a big role in helping bring the world closer together," Facebook has opened a new AI research lab in Montreal as part of Facebook AI Research (FAIR). The company currently has three AI research labs across Menlo Park, New York, and Paris with more than 100 scientists.
In addition, Facebook announced a $7 million in AI support for Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), McGill University, and University de Montreal (over 5 years). With this decision, Facebook follows AI-enthusiasts Microsoft and Google into Canada.
In November 2016, Google (GOOG, GOOGL) committed $4.5 million in AI research in Montreal primarily in the form of grants to MILA, University of Montreal and McGill (over 3 years). Google opened a deep learning and AI research wing in its Montreal office linked to the Google Brain team in California.
Meanwhile, Microsoft (MFST) acquired Montreal-based Maluuba with the intent to double its AI ecosystem over the next two years. The software giant even allocated $6 million to the University de Montreal and $1 million to McGill University for AI research (over 5 years).
IBM (IBM) has committed itself to a $240 million investment to create the MIT IBM Watson AI Lab in partnership with MIT (over 10 years) very recently.
Collaborations & Acquisitions
Back in September 2016, Facebook along with Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and DeepMind/Google created a non-profit organization Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (Partnership on AI) to improve the public understanding of AI and formulate best practices within the field based on various challenges and opportunities. With time, the organization has grown with new members on board including Apple, Intel, Salesforce, SAP, Sony, McKinsey & Company and UNICEF, among others.
Less than two weeks ago, Facebook together with Microsoft introduced a new open ecosystem Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format for interchangeable AI frameworks. ONNX enables "models to be transferred between frameworks and thus is the first step toward an open ecosystem where AI developers can easily move between state-of-the-art tools and choose the combination that is best for them."
The company has been acquiring start-ups to increase its AI capabilities; In July this year, Facebook acquired Ozlo an AI start-up to make messenger smarter with a virtual assistant. Masquerade Technologies, Zurich Eye, Fayteq AG, FacioMetrics are few of its other AI-related acquisitions.
Putting AI To Use
Facebook is used by billions, generating silos of unstructured data for the company. It currently has 2.01 billion monthly active users (as of June 30, 2017), which is 26% of the world population. This can be a great resource provided there are tools in place to see meaning in that data to reach logical conclusions and solutions.
Last year, Facebook introduced DeepText deep learning based text understanding engine. DeepText can understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousand posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages. It is being tested in Messenger for recommended responses based on a conversation.
Facebook has a high accuracy rate of 97% with face verification and is now working to understand images and objects at the pixel level, which can be used to segment, classify and refine images. Facebook is even building an AI-infused camera across its own platform and on Instagram and Messenger.
It is utilizing AI to address the issue of "cloaking" to ensure authenticity in posts. Cloaking circumvents Facebook's review processes and displays that violate its community standards and advertising policies. It is even leveraging AI to combat the spread of extremist or terrorism-related content on its platform.
Overall, AI-backed tools can enhance the relevance, accuracy and appeal of content and advertisements, resulting in higher and better user engagement and experience. This would directly strength Facebook's financials since advertising powers 97% of it is revenue. This makes AI a powerful tool and an integral part of Facebook's present and future journey.