The controversial AI company interviewing 350+ people a month

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If you're looking for an artificial intelligence (AI) job in New York City and you don't want to work in finance any longer, a company at the cutting edge of AI appears to be engaged in some pretty significant recruitment. But it comes with a bad press.

Clarifai, the object recognition company founded by ex-Google intern and NYU PhD Matt Zeiler, has recruited around 15 people so far this year, including multiple engineers on H1B visas who joined in September. This may not sound like a lot, but Dalmo Cirne, Clarifai's director of engineering says the engineering team is/was only 18 people strong on his LinkedIn profile. Proportionately, that's some significant hiring.

Some of Clarifai's existing hires are drawn from finance. Herbert Zheng, the head of backend engineering, whose team eight added people in September alone, according to the H1B visa database, spent two years as an equity analyst before moving into quant model development with GE Capital and then leaving to pursue a career in AI. 

Clarifai has offices in New York City, San Francisco and Washington DC. One recruiter for the company, says she's been conducting over 350 interviews a month for both technology and business focused roles, suggesting Clarifai is not only hiring but choosy. It can probably afford to be so: the H1B database suggests senior research engineers receive salaries of $142k, that backend engineers receive salaries of $100k, and that a director of backend engineering was recently hired on a salary of $183k.

Clarifai's AI solutions, which have the potential to recognize objects in photos and videos, can be used for content moderation and facial recognition. More controversially, they have the potential to be used for military applications like battlefield drones. After employees publicly questioned the applications of their work, Zeiler issued a statement earlier this year arguing that, “A.I. is an essential tool in helping weapons become more accurate, reducing collateral damage, minimizing civilian casualties and friendly fire incidents," and that on balance contributing to battlefield robots is therefore a good thing.

This year's new hires and the 350+ people interviewing with Clarifai each month clearly either agree with him or don't feel it's an issue. Some may be selling product to the Pentagon: alongside salespeople to strengthen its commercial team in NYC, Clarifai has been stepping-up its federal recruitment efforts in DC.

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Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash



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