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Where Facebook AI research moves next – TechCrunch

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Five years is an awful lot of time in the tech industry. Darling startups find ways to crash and burn. Trends that seem unstoppable sputter-out. In the field of artificial intelligence, the past five years have been nothing short of transformative.

Facebook’s AI Research lab (FAIR) turns five years old this month, and just as the social media giant has left an indelible mark on the broader culture — for better or worse — the work coming out of FAIR has seen some major impact in the AI research community and entrenched itself in the way Facebook operates.

“You wouldn’t be able to run Facebook without deep learning,” Facebook Chief AI Scientist Yann LeCun tells TechCrunch. “It’s very, very deep in every aspect of the operation.”

Reflecting on the formation of his team, LeCun recalls his central task in initially creating the research group was “inventing what it meant to do research at Facebook.”

“Facebook didn’t have any research lab before FAIR, it was the first one, until then the company was very much focused on short-term engineering projects with six-month deadlines, if not less,” he says.

LeCun

Five years after its formation, FAIR’s influence permeates the company. The group has labs in Menlo Park, New York, Paris, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Pittsburgh and London. They’ve partnered with academic institutions and published countless papers and studies, many of which the group has enumerated in this handy five-year anniversary timeline here.

“I said ‘No’ to creating a research lab for my first five years at Facebook,” CTO Mike Schroepfer wrote in a Facebook post. “In 2013, it became clear AI would be critical to the long-term future of Facebook. So we had to figure this out.”

The research group’s genesis came shortly after LeCun stopped by Mark Zuckerberg’s house for dinner. “I told [Zuckerberg] how research labs should be organized, particularly the idea of practicing open research.” LeCun said. “What I heard from him, I liked a lot, because he said openness is really in the DNA of the company.”

FAIR has the benefit of longer timelines that allow it to be more focused in maintaining its ethos. There is no “War Room” in the AI labs, and much of the group’s most substantial research ends up as published work that benefits the broader AI community. Nevertheless, in many ways, AI is very much an arms race for Silicon Valley tech companies. The separation between FAIR and Facebook’s Applied Machine Learning (AML) team, which focuses more on imminent product needs, gives the group a “huge, huge amount of leeway to really think about the long term,” LeCun says.

I chatted with LeCun about some of these long-term visions for the company, which evolved into him spitballing about what he’s working on now and where he’d like to see improvements. “First, there’s going to be considerable progress in things that we already have quite a good handle on…”

A big trend for LeCun seems to be FAIR doubling down on work that impacts how people can more seamlessly interact with data systems and get meaningful feedback.

“We’ve had this project that is a question-and-answer system that basically can answer any question if the information is somewhere in Wikipedia. It’s not yet able to answer really complicated questions that require extracting information from multiple Wikipedia articles and cross-referencing them,” LeCun says. “There’s probably some progress there that will make the next generation of virtual assistants and data systems considerably less frustrating to talk to.”

Some of the biggest strides in machine learning over the past five years have taken place in the vision space, where machines are able to parse out what’s happening in an image frame. LeCun predicts greater contextual understanding is on its way.

“You’re going to see systems that can not just recognize the main object in an image but basically will outline every object and give you a textual description of what’s happening in the image, kind of a different, more abstract understanding of what’s happening.”

FAIR has found itself tackling disparate and fundamental problems that have wide impact on how the rest of the company functions, but a lot of these points of progress sit deeper in the five-year timeline.

FAIR has already made some progress in unsupervised learning, and the company has published work on how they are utilizing some of these techniques to translate between languages for which they lack sufficient training data so that, in practical terms, users needing translations from something like Icelandic to Swahili aren’t left out in the cold.

As FAIR looks to its next five years, LeCun contends there are some much bigger challenges looming on the horizon that the AI community is just beginning to grapple with.

“Those are all relatively predictable improvements,” he says. “The big prize we are really after is this idea of self-supervised learning — getting machines to learn more like humans and animals and requiring that they have some sort of common sense.”

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Today’s Wordle Answer #594 – February 3, 2023 Solution And Hints

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If the answer is still a mystery, the word is “tasty.” Apart from describing food as having agreeable flavor, you could say something or someone is tasty if they’re elegant or tasteful. The word is a diminutive of the root noun “taste,” which is from Old French “tast,” which is the term for the sense of touch (now Modern French tât).

In the original context of its usage around the 1400s, “taste” meant a share or a small portion; or the sense by which the flavor of a thing is discerned; and savor or flavor. But by the late 1600s, it had also taken on the sense of “aesthetic judgment,” or “the ability to recognize and appreciate excellence” (via Etymonline). There are more variations of its usage, however, especially in idioms. For example, if you have a taste for something, it means you have a strong preference or desire for it, and if something’s so bad you can taste it, it means that thing is extremely unpleasant (via The Free Dictionary).

This is all based on the fact that the sense of taste is quite adept at perception and discrimination of refinement or finesse. This is the sense on which phrases like “have a good eye/nose” are also based. On average, the human tongue has 2,000–8,000 taste buds, with hundreds of thousands of receptor cells. To keep the sense of taste as keen as possible, each taste bud gets replaced about every two weeks (via Britannica).

We hope you finish your puzzle before you run out of guesses, and if you have a taste for puzzles, here are more like Wordle to keep you busy.

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A New Cybertruck Spotting Just Revealed Two Big Design Changes

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The first clear change to the Cybertruck has to do with the rearview mirrors. As Electrek correctly notes, the Cybertruck was originally meant to lack side mirrors, favoring the more futuristic solution of body-mounted cameras. Assuming the particular prototype that was spotted on the road in Palo Alto represents recent changes, that’s at least one concession to reality from the aggressively conceptual Tesla truck.

The second, arguably more significant change is to the truck bed. Prior to this sighting, the Cybertruck had yet to be shown with a working, retractable tonneau cover. User Flavio Tronz on Instagram seems to have caught the Cybertruck with the cover half-retracted, suggesting that particular challenge has also been conquered.

In short, the Cybertruck seems to be getting the tweaks and flourishes to be expected for a car that is expected to enter full-scale production soon. The implementation of simple, proven solutions, like side mirrors, suggests that Tesla is getting real about putting their vision of the future on actual roads.

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Is It Safe To Charge Your iPhone With Macbook Charger?

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According to Apple, if you own a Mac laptop or an iPad and have immediate access to the USB power adapter that came with it, you can certainly use it to charge your iPhone without the worry of potentially damaging your mobile device’s battery. It can also be used to charge other Apple products like a pair of AirPods or the Apple Watch. The following Apple USB power adapters are some of the options that can be used to charge your iPhone, provided that you have a USB-to-lightning cable:

  • 5W USB power adapter that came with iPhones that preceded the iPhone 11
  • 10W US power adapter that was included with every iPad Air and iPad Air 2, iPad 2, and iPad mini 2,3, and 4
  • 12W USB power adapter that was packaged with several versions of the iPad Pro

If you have a Mac USB-C power adapter or other third-party adapters that fulfill Apple’s safety standards, they can be used to charge your iPhone as well. Certain USB-C power adapters, when used in tandem with Apple’s USB-to-lightning cable, have the ability to fast-charge an iPhone 8 and later iterations up to 50% battery in about half an hour (via Apple). This includes the 29W USB-C power adapter that accompanied older MacBook models that were released in 2015 onwards as well as the 30W, 35W, 61W, 67W, 87W, 96W, and 140W USB-C power adapters that came with certain versions of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. If you own a MacBook laptop and have its Apple-brand power adapter, you should be able to see its wattage printed right on the device itself and determine if it can be used to charge your iPhone.

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