Facebook to develop AI chips to fuel next virtual assistant: 4 notes

Facebook is working to develop its own artificial intelligence chips in a move to compete against other technology giants such as Amazon and Google, the company's chief AI scientist Yann LeCun told The Financial Times.

Four notes:

1. Facebook is hoping to work with a number of chip developers on designs for AI chips, according to Mr. LeCun. However, he also suggested the company is developing a custom chip to support its AI programs.

"Facebook has been known to build its hardware when required — build its own [application-specific integrated circuit chips], for instance," he told The Financial Times in what the publication called Facebook's first confirmation on the scope of its chip work.

2. Facebook needs faster computing hardware to create new breakthrough AI applications. One of the projects the company is considering is a virtual assistant, similar to Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri.

"In terms of new uses, one thing Facebook would be interested in is offering smart digital assistants — something that has a level of common sense," Mr. LeCun told The Financial Times. "They have background knowledge and you can have a discussion with them on any topic."

3. To create this type of virtual assistant, Facebook is reportedly working on new designs for neural networks, an AI technique behind many recent advances in image and language recognition. The company is also working to add computer memory to neural networks so they can retain more context during conversation, according to The Financial Times.

4. Facebook has designed other hardware products, such as data center equipment. In the past, the company has later released its work on an open-source basis so others can contribute to it.

"The objective is to give it away," Mr. LeCun said of the company's work with chip designs.

To read the complete article in The Financial Times, click here.

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