For most of us, a personal project would involve maybe reading a few books. For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it involved building a “Jarvis” like personal assistant. You know, from the Ironman movie? Well, Zuckerberg has been deploying the various resources and the mind that led to the creation of Facebook to the problem and has now shared some of his progress with us.
Okay, so to be clear, when Zuckerberg set out to build his AI, interest in artificial intelligences for home was still budding. The last year has seen rapid progress in the field though an an Echo, Dot, Tap and Google Home later, we can already buy a solution for most of the stuff Zuckerberg was aiming to achieve using his own AI. That said though, the AI still required a lof of work, specially considering the fact that it needed to be connected to a lot of devices that did not support iOT out of the box.
Zuckerberg started out with Python, PHP and Objective C to code the software and used fancy stuff like language processing, speech recognition and face recognition to incorporate elements of machine learning. And machine learning is important with AI, because if it is intelligent, you would expect it to get better with time.
Also, Jarvis is highly personalized for the Zuckerberg home and its inhabitants. So say if both Mark and wife Priscilla ask it to say “turn on the lights in my study”, it has to be able to differentiate between the two and be aware of where exactly that task needs to be done. What’s more, Zuckerberg also created a Facebook bot so as to be able to give commands to his home controlling AI via text messages.
The best and most interesting use of the AI seemed to be the way it could handle music preferences. It actually gets better at recognizing a particular user’s music tastes and when that user tells it to play a song, it can take those tastes into account and play the perfect poison, depending on the user asking it to play it.
Meanwhile, while Zuckerberg did manage to achieve a fairly capable AI in the span of a year — particularly since he spent only 100 hours coding it! — he believes that a general AI, perhaps like the Jarvis shown in IronMan movies, is still far, far away. We may eventually get to that point, however, it is going to take time.
As far as Mark’s Jarvis is concerned, it is currently turning the lights on and off at the Zuckerberg’s residence. It may or may not be released for the public, depending upon how good it gets. Zuckerberg also said that his company may decide to build a complete product in the future, that use the capabilities of this AI.