How Facebook wants to drive AI from the inside

Facebook, Inc.’s. Larry Zitnick, one of the leading research managers at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab, gives out highly coveted classes at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Zitnick does not repeat his lectures, which means that one class offers a gold mine of information that cannot be accessed anywhere else.

With AI in the mix, educating people on deep learning gives Facebook’s engineers another tool at their arsenal that they can use to rise up the ranks in the company or improve on their current project developments.

The information they glean from Zitnick’s classes ignites the competitive streak in the engineers, pushing them to make better iterations in their respective fields to include deep learning and AI. As beneficial as the classes are for their engineers, Facebook stands to gain the most advantage.



Most, if not all tech companies in Silicon Valley, as well as their counterparts around the globe are integrating AI into their products and services. At present, Facebook is working on the most number of AI projects in the tech industry all thanks to their research team and a constant push for development. While some projects are less successful than others it is clear that the key is to keep pushing in order to discover breakthroughs that bring great value.

Facebook is offering these classes to their employees because engineers with full AI and deep learning backgrounds are not turning over fast enough in Silicon Valley. There is a high demand for AI experts and existing teams are not enough to meet the demand that industry projections are forecasting.

Zitnick’s classes are not the only AI-teaching initiative Facebook has. They also have an AI immersion program that allows engineers to test their research findings in the field. Doing so gives Facebook a win-win situation. They get more AI engineers and they get to test the new iterations right off the bat. Their goal? Make Facebook one of the leading AI integrators in tech – just one of many “primary provider” goals the company is working on at the moment.



Even though Facebook has been offering these classes for a while many tech giants, Google included, are doing the same. We are looking at an industry that is intent on building itself and harnessing development in a somewhat self-sufficient manner. Microsoft announced that they will be backing an AI incubator in Montreal called Element AI and are investing in startups that are working on AI programs and taking advantage of the loophole that allows them to collaborate with AI engineers in these startups.

Other companies on the AI bandwagon include Uber and their acquisition of AI startup Geometric Intelligence; Google acquiring Deepmind for $400 million – a record in AI acquisitions; and , lastly, Apple with Emotient, a facial recognition company that uses AI for scanning and recognition.

InsideSales, a company that relies on AI to program their online sales services, has plans to put up their own AI learning outpost in Ireland because they can’t find enough experts or new employees that can keep up with the demand for deep learning programming in their company.

“It’s more of an art than a science,” says InsideSales CEO David Alum. The best people for the job are already taken or are too expensive to keep on permanently. The best these startups can do for their companies is to get consultants, but what they truly need are in-house performers.



Companies are realizing that young engineers are no longer packing their bags and moving to San Francisco to apply for the giants and startups that made their name in the Bay Area. The new guys are now on to how these tech leaders work and they are putting up their own companies and algorithms for sale, rather than working for a salary in a highly volatile marketplace.

What they’re doing here is giving the little guys a chance to make a name for themselves, keep their equities in check, while acquriing the opportunity to learn and grow in AI.

What’s more is that companies are acknowledging the potential in their current roster of employees and they are doing a good job of offering something valuable to their employees in exchange for a bigger net worth.

This surprising uptake in AI-focused programs is also giving us a preview of what tech will look like in the future. A huge portion of companies’ fundings are going into AI – telling us that entertainment, the real moneymaker, is not their end goal. AI is a long-term dream that tech wants to fulfill in less time than experts predict.



Larry Zitnick