(Chris Devlin) #1

135


FORTUNE.COM // JUNE .1 .19


DAISY, A HEXAPOD ROBOT BORN IN


Facebook’s new artificial intel-
ligence lab, scuttles across the
verdant roof of the company’s
Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters
with a message to deliver: The
future belongs to those who
teach—and learn.
That concept sits at the center
of Facebook’s AI Research lab,
a previously unrevealed open-
source project that launched in
late 2018, even as the company
endured repeated black eyes over
privacy concerns related to its ad-
vertising products. The lab’s pur-
pose is to use robotics as a vehicle
for developing better A.I. “Having
embodied intelligence is a really
important problem because it
creates constraints to the kinds of
algorithms that you can use,” says
Roberto Calandra, one of Face-
book’s robotics research scien-
tists. “ You need to have algorithms
that can be robust, efficient, and
applicable in the real world.”
That’s why Daisy’s stroll along
a dusty path is so significant. In-
troducing the A.I. to “noise”—like
bumps in the road—not only helps
the robot walk better but, more
important, also helps Daisy learn
how to learn.
Touch, posits Calandra, is key
to learning. But the lab’s goal isn’t
merely to create more tactile
robots. This is Facebook, after all.
So starting at the recent Inter-
national Conference on Robotics
and Automation, what Facebook
learns, it shares with others.

At the Facebook AI
Research lab, the online
publisher is teaching
robots how to learn. It
promises to share the
results with its friends.

FACEBOOK


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