Facebook hires the scientist who helped build IBM Watson to lead A.I. expansion

Key Points
  • IBM's former chief scientist for big data, Jérôme Pesenti, is joining Facebook to hold the new position of vice president of artificial intelligence.
  • Yann LeCun, who has been head of artificial intelligence research at Facebook since joining in late 2013, is becoming the company's chief artificial intelligence scientist.
Facebook hires the scientist who helped build IBM Watson to lead its A.I. expansion

Facebook has hired a former IBM executive to be its head of artificial intelligence as it aims to expand its efforts in that area.

The personnel changes come as Amazon, Google and Microsoft also staff up in AI.

Jérôme Pesenti, who led the development of the Watson platform at IBM after IBM acquired a company he co-founded, Vivismimo, is taking the newly created role of vice president of AI, a Facebook spokesman told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday. Most recently Pesenti was at European company BenevolentAI. Quartz originally reported the news.

Meanwhile Yann LeCun, an AI luminary from New York University who joined Facebook in 2013 to be the director the then-new Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research unit, is leaving that post and becoming Facebook's chief AI scientist, the spokesman said.

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Several leaders from the FAIR group, along with the head of Facebook's Applied Machine Learning Group, will report to Pesenti, who in turn will report to Facebook's CTO, Mike Schroepfer, the spokesman said.

Facebook will accelerate its growth in AI under Pesenti, the spokesman said. The FAIR group has more than 130 people around the world. In addition to better accommodating for growth, the changes should also help assist in the transfer of technology from the FAIR group to the AML group, the spokesman said.

In September Facebook announced the opening of an AI lab in Montreal, and earlier this week the company said it would double the size of its AI lab in Paris.

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