Meta layoffs hit an entire ML research team focused on infrastructure

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Following Wednesday’s layoffs at Meta, which cut 11,000 employees, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said publicly shared a message to Meta employees that signaled to some that those working in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) may be bearing the brunt of the cuts.

“We’ve shifted more of our resources to a smaller number of high-priority growth areas, such as our AI discovery engine, our advertising and business platforms, and our long-term vision for the metaverse,” Zuckerberg wrote.

However, a Meta researcher who was fired tweeted that he and the entire research organization called “Probability,” which focused on applying machine learning to the infrastructure stack, was cut off.

The team had 50 members, not counting managers, said researcher Thomas Ahle: tweet: “19 people do Bayesian Modeling, 9 people do Ranking and Recommendations, 5 people do ML Efficiency, 17 people do AI for Chip Design and Compilers. Plus managers and stuff.”

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Another member of the team, a senior software engineer named Emily McMilin, responded by tweeting, “It took me almost 7 years at Meta to find a team as amazing as Probability.”

In his letter to employees (which came just a few weeks after Meta shares plunged following the earnings call for the third quarter), Zuckerberg noted that he is currently undergoing a “thorough overhaul” of infrastructure spending.

“As we build our AI infrastructure, we are focused on getting even more efficient with our capacity,” he wrote. “Our infrastructure will continue to be a key asset to Meta, and I believe we can achieve this with less spending.”

According to the probability of Meta webpagethe team is “radically making it easier for engineers to adopt machine learning techniques by deeply integrating machine learning into Facebook’s programming languages, developer tools and infrastructure.”

Commenting on life after the Meta layoffs, Ahle added that after a year and a half on the Meta team, “I hope to stay in the Bay Area for a while, if anyone needs some algorithms.”

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