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Facebook nabs Google’s advanced technology head for new hardware lab

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Facebook may have mapped out its product strategy for the next decade at its F8 Developers Conference, but that’s not going to stop it from working on new projects.

Now, it seems the social network has found a lead for its multimillion-dollar ventures. Regina Dugan, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA), has been assigned the task, which will see her assume a similar role as to her most recent position as Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) team leader.

Dugan will take the reins at the new Facebook enterprise, known as Building 8, which will focus on “ambitious” R&D to create “breakthrough products,” reports Forbes.

Without giving away too much about Building 8, Dugan stated that it will develop hardware products that utilize Facebook’s expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence. The products will reportedly support CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a connected world.

“I’m excited to have Regina apply DARPA-style breakthrough development at the intersection of science and products to our mission,” wrote Zuckerberg in a Facebook post announcing Dugan’s arrival. “This method is characterized by aggressive, fixed timelines, extensive use of partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and clear objectives for shipping products at scale.”

Dugan made history as the first woman to become the director if DARPA in 2009. The 53-year-old is known for pursuing ambitious projects to tight deadlines. Her past approach, both at DARPA and Google, relied on scientific innovation in collaboration with external teams in academia and beyond. While at Google, this strategy resulted in the development of modular smartphones, 3D mapping devices, and smart technology.

In a sentimental post on Facebook, Dugan remarked on her new position while claiming that a part of her will always be with ATAP. “I am…tremendously excited. Building 8 is an opportunity to do what I love most… tech infused with a sense of our humanity,” writes Dugan. “Audacious science delivered at scale in products that feel almost magic. A little badass. And beautiful. There is much to build at Facebook… and the mission is human… compelling.”

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