From The Editors Technology

Mark Zuckerberg Builds AI Assistant for Home and Family

Over the years we have seen quite a few examples of science fiction of the past, also termed ‘future shocks’ by many, become the reality of the present, Artificial Intelligence included.

To put it in layman’s terms Artificial Intelligence is the creation of computer hardware and software that are capable of intelligent behaviour and can be programmed to mimic human intelligence like “learning” and “problem-solving.”

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an indispensable element in modern day technology, especially in the 21st century, the concept has been around for some time now.

However, like with many other technological realities of today, the successful creation and deployment of Artificial Intelligence has experienced its share of setbacks as well, its trials and travails can be traced as far back as the 1950s, or maybe even earlier.

Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg

In modern times Artificial Intelligence has been successfully integrated into many technologies like understanding human speech, gaming technologies, self-driving cars, to name a few – and ongoing research can and will find many other uses of this amazing technology.

Back in January Mark Zuckerberg made public his plan of coding a program with the help of Artificial Intelligence to perform basic day to day tasks for his home and family.

On January 4, 2016, Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote:

“My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man”

In the Marvel-Comics- based Iron Man films franchise, Jarvis is the stylized form of J.A.R.V.I.S the acronym for “Just a Rather Very Intelligent System.

“I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I’ll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max’s [Maxima Chan-Zuckerberg, his daughter] room that I need to check on when I’m not with her.” He continued in his January post.

“This should be a fun intellectual challenge to code this for myself. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn over the course of the year,” he concluded.

With the year nearing its end, the challenge he had set for himself has been realized with some degree of success as there is always further work involved to make such projects work at the optimum – some more tweaks and fine tuning, one would suppose, to make a perfect AI home assistant.

Daniel Terdiman, a San Francisco-based tech journalist with almost 2 decades of experience behind him, writes on

Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Jarvis’

“Zuckerberg has always enjoyed what he calls the “deterministic” nature of engineering—the element of being able to sit down and build something that does exactly what you want it to do.”

He goes on to say, “Often, Zuckerberg told me, he emerges from a coding session feeling much like he does when he studies Mandarin, the language he learned as his 2010 challenge. He feels like his brain is activated, on fire.”

Talking about the goal he had set for himself at the start of 2016, Zuckerberg writes in his December 19, post:

“So far this year, I’ve built 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. It uses several artificial intelligence techniques, including natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition, and reinforcement learning, written in Python, PHP and Objective C. In this note, I’ll explain what I built and what I learned along the way.”

He goes on to explain the technical aspects of his personal 2016 challenge of building the Artificial Intelligence assistant which he compares to Jarvis of Iron Man fame under the following headings:

* Getting Started: Connecting the Home
* Natural Language
* Vision and Face Recognition
* Messenger Bot
* Voice and Speech Recognition
* Facebook Engineering Environment
* Next Steps
* Conclusions

To know more about the points above refer to his post on Facebook.

However, world-renowned theoretical physicist Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, told the BBC: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Well, if he were to be believed, it’s a very scary prediction indeed for the human race

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