Zuckerberg's New Year's resolution could change A.I.
- 05 January, 2016 00:00
In past years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made big New Year's resolutions, such as meet a new person every day, learn Mandarin or read two books a month.
His resolution this year is one that might do more than make Zuckerberg better read or more sociable.
Inspired by Jarvis, the home computer system in the Iron Man comics and movies, the Facebook CEO said that for 2016, he intends to build a simple artificial intelligence (A.I.) system that will help run his home and help him with his work.
"Every challenge has a theme, and this year's theme is invention," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "I'm going to start by exploring what technology is already out there. Then 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 room that I need to check on when I'm not with her."
Zuckerberg said this A.I. system won't only help at home. He wants it to help him at work, as well.
"On the work side, it'll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively," he wrote. "At Facebook I spend a lot of time working with engineers to build new things… But it's a different kind of rewarding to build things yourself, so this year my personal challenge is to do that. 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."
Since there are companies and university research teams working on artificial intelligence, what could one more person's efforts do for the technology?
"Well, it's an ambitious goal but one worth pursuing," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "Facebook carries a lot of weight in the tech industry, as does Zuckerberg, and making that a goal also could stimulate a number of other developers to build things that can advance his cause."
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said any significant progress that Zuckerberg makes in A.I. raises compelling questions. For instance, would he make A.I. part of Facebook, or create a whole new company for it?
Whatever happens, Zuckerberg's involvement will be a boost for A.I., Moorhead said. "I think Zuckerberg throwing his ax into the sea could be the wake-up call the industry needs."