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Facebook wants to make a new virtual assistant that's smarter than Siri or Alexa, report says

Key Points
  • Facebook announced a partnership with Intel last month, entering a stiff race to develop a more specialized and powerful artificial intelligence chip.
  • A niche AI chip could aid in Facebook's content moderation battle and could boost Facebook's burgeoning hardware division.
  • "If there's any stone unturned, we're going to work on it," says Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018.
Stephen Lam | Reuters

Facebook is hoping its artificial intelligence chips will someday power a virtual assistant smarter than Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa, according to the Financial Times.

The company announced a partnership with Intel last month, entering a stiff race to develop a more specialized and powerful artificial intelligence chip. Tech giants and semiconductor makers alike have taken up the project, and Facebook has apparently given itself a tall task.

"If there's any stone unturned, we're going to work on it," Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist, told the Financial Times.

A niche AI chip could aid in Facebook's content moderation battle, more accurately finding and removing abusive content across Facebook's platforms. It could also boost Facebook's burgeoning hardware division, which launched the first Facebook-branded home device, Portal, last fall.

Facebook in 2015 launched a text-based digital assistant, dubbed M, within its Messenger app. The tool was partially powered by AI and partially the work of contracted employees. Facebook ultimately killed the tool, but it could be looking toward a revamp of sorts.

"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," LeCun told the Financial Times. "They have background knowledge and you can have a discussion with them on any topic."

Read the full report at the Financial Times.

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