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Facebook replaces artificial intelligence head; buys ID verification startup
Photo Credit: Reuters

Social media giant Facebook has replaced its artificial intelligence division head Yann LeCun with IBM veteran and former CEO of AI startup BenevolentAI Jerome Pesenti.

Pesenti will take over the company's FAIR (Facebook AI Research) division that LeCun launched in 2013. He will also lead Facebook's applied machine learning division that helps integrate AI solutions into Facebook products, according to a report by Business Insider.

On the other hand, LeCun will continue to work with Facebook as chief AI scientist and will lead the company's general direction into AI research.

"There was a need for someone to basically oversee all the AI at Facebook, across research, development and have a connection with product," LeCun told Quartz. LeCun, who was hired by founder and CEO Zuckerberg himself, also teaches at the New York University.

The report also said Pesenti will report directly to Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer. Pesenti's appointment could also mean that FAIR and the company's applied machine learning (AML) division will work more closely in realising the AI efforts of the social network.

Recently, the company's Indian arm launched startup and digital training hubs in the country.

Through the online hubs, the social network aims to train more than half a million people in India by 2020. The hubs, which are rolled out in the country with cooperation from local organisations, will provide digital skills and training for those who are looking for work. The service will also advise entrepreneurs on how to get started and help existing businesses leverage the internet.

Facebook acquires Confirm

In a separate development, Facebook has bought Boston software firm Confirm Inc, which specialises in authenticating government-issued identification cards. Neither Facebook nor Confirm disclosed terms of the deal.

Privately held Confirm said on its website that the acquisition was the culmination of three years of work to build technology to keep people safe online. It also said that it will wind down all of its current digital ID authentication software offerings.

The move comes as the social network faces criticism about its limited ability to know who is advertising on its platform after it came to light that suspected Russian operatives had been paying to boost Facebook posts in the US to influence the 2016 presidential election. Russia denies the allegations.

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