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Facebook makes artificial intelligence push with fresh NYU additions

Artificial intelligence is one small step for man, and one giant leap for Facebook, which has hired two New York University professors for its new AI research lab.

As part of a joint collaboration between Facebook and NYU, Yann LeCun and Rob Fergus have joined the group, which will research data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

According to Fergus, the social network first introduced the AI Group in September. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is expected to reveal the news during this week's Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Conference in Lake Tahoe with LeCun and Facebook CTO Michael Schroepfer.

The group, which hosts offices in Menlo Park, New York City (mere steps from NYU's main campus), and London, boasts the "ambitious, long-term goal of bringing about major advances in Artificial Intelligence," according to LeCun.

LeCun plans to continue his research and teaching at the university's Center for Data Science on a part-time basis.

"As one of the most respected thinkers in this field, Yann has done groundbreaking research in deep learning and computer vision," Schroepfer said in a statement. "We're thrilled to welcome him to Facebook."

Fergus, meanwhile, will work part-time until May, when he will become a full-time employee at Facebook's new Astor Place office in New York. Eventually, Fergus will return to juggling both jobs."This is an exciting time for the field, and I'm looking forward to getting started," he said.

Zuckerberg agrees, saying in a recent earnings call that the group's goal is to "use new approaches in AI to help make sense of all the content that people share so we can generate new insights about the world to answer people's questions."

"Over time, I think it's going to be possible to build services that are much more natural to interact with and can help solve many more problems than any existing technology today," the Facebook CEO said. "I'm excited that we're working on this problem and I'm looking forward to us doing a lot more here."