- Joelle Pineau, director of Facebook's AI research lab in Montreal, said she's convinced AI needs to eventually interact with the world and have physical contact with it.
- The AI research lab she runs is one of five Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research offices, which employs approximately 150 researchers worldwide.
- Pineau said that, as a result, Facebook and its AI research team are becoming more heavily involved in robotics.
Artificial intelligence can be based on algorithms and doesn't necessarily have to be in the form of a humanoid robot, as is the case in films like "Ex Machina" and "I, Robot".
This is the case, for example, with Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant, Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri, which integrate various devices such as smartphones or connected speakers.
But in an interview with Business Insider at the USI conference in Paris, Joelle Pineau, Canadian robotics specialist at McGill University and director of Facebook's AI research lab in Montreal said she — along with several other Facebook researchers — was convinced that in order to advance AI, "you need intelligence that interacts with the world, that has physical contact with it".
It's for this reason that Facebook and its AI research team are becoming more and more involved in robotics, she said, clarifying that the tech giant wasn't currently working on an AI robot: "no, there's no project in this pipelines — or at least, if there is, it's the first I've heard of it!"
"To progress in AI, at some point we have to integrate AI's interactions with the physical world. As a result, we're starting to do more and more small robotics projects, especially in the lab in California where there's more space, not to mention a goldmine of new recruits. We use mobile robots designed by other companies like ClearPath Robotics in Canada, which makes all kinds of robots for research."
Joelle Pineau used a simple example to demonstrate the difference between an AI in the form of an algorithm and an AI "embodied" in a physical form:
"It would be almost as though, as humans, we'd spent our lives observing a world we can't handle or touch. We interact differently with objects because we can, if you want, manipulate them. When watching objects being 'manipulated' all day, you won't have the same understanding of them as though you, yourself, were handling them. We can guess at the weight, texture, and malleability of an object, but unless you touch an object yourself, you won't have the same appreciation of it."
The AI research lab in Montreal, led by Joelle Pineau, is one of five Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research offices, which employs approximately 150 researchers worldwide. Facebook chose Paris in 2015 as for the location of its first European office.
NOW WATCH: Everything wrong with the iPhone