Facebook announces £1m for AI research programme in UK

The social networking giant will work in partnership with University College London.

Facebook has announced a £1 million investment for its first PhD programme in the UK, which will fund research into artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a scheme with University College London (UCL).

The programme will support a handful of PhD students and as part of the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) will also see them spend time at the social network’s AI lab in London working with key AI researchers.

The investment will be spent over the next four years, with new students added each year, Facebook said.

The scheme builds on an existing PhD programme Facebook has in the US, Canada and France as part of efforts to increase research into AI.

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Virtual assistants like Amazon Echo, which rely on artificial intelligence, have become part of everyday life (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“The field of artificial intelligence benefits immensely from open science and collaboration among researchers,” the social media firm said in a blog post announcing the UK programme.

“That’s why one of our missions at FAIR is to foster collaboration in the field by open-sourcing our work and sharing our data, as well as by supporting fundamental and applied AI research taking place in academic institutions around the world.

“Today, we are announcing a four-year AI research partnership with University College London as part of the expansion of our PhD program to the U.K.

“Our PhD programmes support PhD students undertaking cutting-edge AI research at leading universities.

“Students in our programmes spend time both at their universities and at Facebook, pursuing projects that not only get published but are also regularly open-sourced.”

Facebook said UCL’s computer science department’s standing as a leading research institution made it a “natural fit” for its programme.

AI has become an increasingly popular area of research as the technology has become more embedded in the daily life of millions of people; used in virtual assistants built into mobile phones and smart speakers; as well as in data analysis across different industries and in medical research and wider healthcare to help with processes including diagnoses.

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