The director of Facebook's research laboratory in Montreal explained to us how robots will help the tech giant to advance its AI

The director of Facebook's research laboratory in Montreal explained to us how robots will help the tech giant to advance its AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be modeled in the form of an algorithm and does not necessarily have the form of a robot or a humanoid as is the case in the film “Ex Machina”.

This is the case, for example, with Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistants, Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, which can integrate different devices such as smartphones or connected speakers.

But Facebook’s Montreal AI Research Lab director Joelle Pineau, speaking to Business Insider France on the sidelines of the ICU conference in Paris, said she and several other researchers at Facebook are convinced that to advance AI, we need to, “it is necessary to have intelligences that interact with the world, that have physical contact with”.

And it is in this sense that Facebook and its AI research team are increasingly interested in the field of robotics, she said, clarifying that the tech giant was not working on a robot with AI: “no, there is no project in this field, in any case, no one has told me about this.”

The Canadian specialist in robotics and reinforcement learning from McGill University explained:

“To make progress in AI, we must at some point confront these interactions with the physical world. So we are starting to do more and more small projects in robotics, especially in the laboratory in California where there is more space and a good vein for recruitment. We use manipulators, mobile robots designed by other companies like ClearPath Robotics in Canada, which makes all kinds of robots for research.”

Joelle Pineau gave a simple example to show us the difference between an AI in the form of an algorithm and an AI “embodied” with a physical form:

“It’s as if as a human, we spend our lives observing the world, without having the ability to manipulate, to touch this world. When we see objects, we have a different interaction with them, because we can manipulate them. When you watch objects being manipulated all day long, you will not have the same understanding of them as if you were manipulating them yourself. One can conceive, have an idea of the weight, the texture, whether it is deformable or not, but before doing it yourself, you do not have the same understanding.”

The AI research laboratory in Montreal, led by Joelle Pineau, is one of the five branches of FAIR — Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research — which employs about 150 researchers worldwide. Facebook had chosen Paris in 2015 to open its European branch.

Receive our latest news

Every day, the main Business Insider news

Go to our cases Get a free quote