A Facebook executive says he’s slugging it out with Google in ‘huge battles’ for AI talent

Technology

Facebook and Google are slugging it out for artificial intelligence talent.

That’s according to Rob Fergus, who heads up Facebook’s AI division in New York. He told Wired that the company engages in “huge battles” with Google’s London-based AI company DeepMind.

Google acquired DeepMind in 2014 for about £400 million ($600 million at the time), after originally being courted by Facebook as well.

Facebook now has its own AI division, called the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group. FAIR is spread across multiple US cities, as well as France and Canada.

Wired described Deepmind as FAIR’s biggest rival, and FAIR’s New York chief Rob Fergus said the two companies lock horns for the brightest minds.

“Of course we do fight a lot. We have huge battles with [Google] for the best talent… Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.” he told Wired.

Read more: Google’s cutting-edge artificial-intelligence unit is costing millions

While Facebook and Google may be racing to the top spot, some industry leaders have warned against any one company holding a monopoly on AI. Elon Musk told Recode’s Kara Swisher that he’s in favour of creating an independent body to introduce some oversight.

He also said that he founded his own company OpenAI — which has trained neural networks to beat human players at the video game Dota 2— to counter the possibility of AI power being monopolised, and mentioned DeepMind specifically.

“There is a very strong concentration of AI power, and especially at Google/DeepMind. And I have very high regard for Larry Page and Demis Hassabis, but I do think that there’s value to some independent oversight,” he said.

Although undoubtedly major players, Facebook and Google are not the only game in town. Amazon, Uber, Apple, and IBM all have their own dedicated AI divisions.

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