Meet Jarvis: Mark Zuckerberg’s Personal Assistant!

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has given a sneak peek into Jarvis, the Iron Man inspired artificial intelligence personal assistant he has been building this year. He called the efforts a personal challenge he had undertaken in 2016 to help him “to learn about the state of artificial intelligence — where we’re further along than people realise and where we’re still a long ways off”.

Giving details, Zuckerberg said he was able to build a simple AI that “I can talk to on my phone and computer, that can control my home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security, that learns my tastes and patterns, that can learn new words and concepts, and that can even entertain Max (his daughter)”. He said his concept uses several artificial intelligence techniques like natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition and reinforcement learning. It has been written in Python, PHP and Objective C.

He said his first task was to write code to connect systems that speak different languages and protocols. “We use a Crestron system with our lights, thermostat and doors, a Sonos system with Spotify for music, a Samsung TV, a Nest cam for Max, and of course my work is connected to Facebook’s systems,” he wrote in the Facebook Note, adding how he had to reverse engineer APIs “for some of these to even get to the point where I could issue a command from my computer”.

The challenge Zuckerberg said was that most appliances aren’t even connected to the internet yet. “For assistants like Jarvis to be able to control everything in homes for more people, we need more devices to be connected and the industry needs to develop common APIs and standards for the devices to talk to each other.”

Zuckerberg has written about how he made the system recognises faces and how we he used bots. “I built the first version of the Jarvis app for iOS and I plan to build an Android version soon too. I hadn’t built an iOS app since 2012 and one of my main observations is that the toolchain we’ve built at Facebook since then for developing these apps and for doing speech recognition is very impressive.” There is a suggestion here that an AI-based bot could end up in Facebook Messenger soon.

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Zuckerberg concluded that he has previously predicted that within 5-10 years we’ll have AI systems that are more accurate than people for each of our senses — vision, hearing, touch, etc, as well as things like language.

“It’s impressive how powerful the state of the art for these tools is becoming, and this year makes me more confident in my prediction.” But he adds that we are still far off from understanding how learning works.

“In a way, AI is both closer and farther off than we imagine. AI is closer to being able to do more powerful things than most people expect — driving cars, curing diseases, discovering planets, understanding media. Those will each have a great impact on the world, but we’re still figuring out what real intelligence is,” he signed off, adding that he would be taking up a new challenge in the coming year.

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Facebook explains why it enabled Safety Check for Paris but not other recent attacks

  In the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks on Friday, many with loved ones living in the city received a new type of notification from Facebook. The social network activated a relatively new tool called Safety Check for the attacks, letting people in Paris easily tell their friends and that they were safe.
While the feature has been helpful for many, some pointed to its use in Paris but not for other recent attacks — like a twin suicide bombing that killed over 40 in Beiruit on Thursday — as yet another example of western bias that apparently values certain lives more than others.

On Saturday, Facebook saw fit to respond to those accusations in a blog post written by the company’s vice president of growth, Alex Schultz. In it, Schultz notes that this is the first time the company has enabled Safety Check for anything other than a natural disaster, events which the tool was originally designed for when it was released last year.

Like a natural disaster, he notes, during the attacks “Facebook became a place where people were sharing information and looking to understand the condition of their loved ones.” After discussing with Facebook employees on the ground, the company decided it was a good idea to turn on Safety Check. “There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.”

Now that Facebook has set a precedent for using Safety Check for terrorism and other violent events, it will need to figure out when and where to use the feature. From Schultz’s comments, it’s not clear if the team would have enabled it for Beruit. He includes the Lebanese city among “other parts of the world, where violence is more common and terrible things happen with distressing frequency. ” And he notes that “During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.'”

That said, Schultz writes that “We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help,” adding, “We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch.”

WOW, Facebook is actually making a Dislike Button!

Dislike Button

Now, Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is finally building a Dislike button. The world has waited nearly a decade to show their disdain on Facebook with a single click.

“I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years. Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it,” Zuck said at a town hall meeting. He explained that the social network didn’t want to create a Reddit-style system of upvoting and downvoting. But then he basically said they were going do the same thing with Like and Dislike buttons — except framed very differently.

“What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy,” said the 31-year-old CEO. “Not every moment is a good moment.”

So no more of those awkward moments clicking Like or even the media-friendly “Recommend” when a terrible thing happens. Soon, you’ll finally be able to call bad things bad on Facebook.

I guess buying Dislikes will be common very soon, so may the Dislikes war begin!