The founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is constantly thinking up what’s next for the multi-billion dollar social media platform. In April 2016, Zuckerberg laid out a 10-year plan for the company with a goal to provide the platform to everyone in the world. This plan will be carried out using three main resources: connectivity, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. It is clear that Facebook will be increasing its use and development of these three tools, and that Zuckerberg’s artificial intelligence plans are very real. AI is something that Zuckerberg has integrated into the company, as well as toyed with in his own home.
Zuckerberg AI: Creating Jarvis
In 2016, Zuckerberg wrote the code for an artificially intelligent home assistant to help him complete various tasks at home like turning on lights, getting a t-shirt, or notifying him who is at the door by using facial recognition. He notes, “Building Jarvis was an interesting intellectual challenge, and it gave me direct experience building AI tools in areas that are important for our future.” By gaining a hands on understanding of where AI is at now and how far it has to go, Zuckerberg understands many of the challenges that need to be overcome for AI to be integrated into everyone’s home. For instance, he learned that having Jarvis control a toaster or helping someone to cook would require hardwiring the appliances to be able to communicate with the assistant. Additionally, he notes, “Speech recognition systems have improved recently, but no AI system is good enough to understand conversational speech just yet.” That remains to be a large challenge faced by nearly everyone working with AI today.
What Does Artificial Intelligence Mean to Zuckerberg?
Some of the biggest names in money and technology, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, disagree on what the term artificial intelligence actually means. Musk criticized Zuckerberg’s AI butler Jarvis, arguing that carrying out voice commands does not make the technology intelligent. He argues that artificial intelligence is only intelligent when the software can function without human interference and can complete a task in one smooth algorithms rather than a series of them. Zuckerberg disagrees and sees the term AI as an overarching catch-all for any software that uses some type of AI component.
In a Vanity Fair article, the two were rated amongst other top technologists and scientists on their opinions of AI. Zuckerberg was rated as one of the most pro-AI individuals, whereas Musk rested somewhere in the middle. Stephen Hawking, the most anti-AI of the group, has been quoted as saying, “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
AI In Facebook Messenger
Although many disagree on the definition of AI and whether it will eventually cause humans to question the creation of it, Zuckerberg has integrated it into Facebook’s messaging platform. Facebook M, an intelligent personal assistant, can make suggestions based on your conversation with another person. It can recommend emojis to use based on the words you are using in the conversation, or suggest getting a ride from a rideshare company. Because Facebook M was only released in early 2017, it is still in its infancy. Laurent Landowski, the assistant’s product manager, says, “The original version of M will continue to help us understand and learn more about . . . what we need to build and what people want.” Like Jarvis, the virtual assistant responds to text/voice input and then offers suggestions or carries out tasks. It increases its effectiveness once it learns your speaking patterns and your conversation style. However, it is not yet fully intelligent and only functions using a series of algorithms.
Facebook’s Future with AI
Given that a core goal of Facebook’s expansion is based in AI, there is no doubt that Zuckerberg has big plans for the future of virtual assistants and artificial intelligence. The platform will use AI in part to help manage and track patterns in users photos, posts, and likes. With the goal of having over 7 billion users, there is clearly a need for the integration of an artificially intelligent assistant into the platform.