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Facebook AI Chief Pushes the Technology’s Limits

Facebook AI Chief Pushes the Technology’s Limits

As babies drop spoons and cups from their high-chairs, they come to understand the concept of gravity. To a parent, it might seem like the process takes forever, but babies typically grasp the idea in a few months.

Algorithms require much more data and time to learn much narrower lessons. A handful of scientists are pushing the furthest limits of artificial intelligence by training it to better learn by itself, more like a baby.

“This is the single most important problem to solve in AI today,” says Yann LeCun, chief artificial intelligence scientist at Facebook Inc.

It is a Manhattan Project-like effort that will go on for years, if not decades. At Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other companies and universities around the world, scientists are working to create better AI that learns through self-supervision, teaching itself about the world the way people do. The immediate goal is broader AI that can perform multiple tasks, but that could one day lead to artificial general intelligence, or machines with humanlike thinking.

Scientists have had some early success with self-supervised learning, especially in areas such as natural-language processing used in mobile phones, smart speakers and customer-service bots.

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