AFTER MONTHS of planning and discussions with Robert Downey Junior over doing the voice, Mark Zuckerberg's pet project for 2016 is here. His name is Jarvis, but he sounds suspiciously like Morgan Freeman.
The prime goal was to go beyond the simple "do as I say" of Siri, Echo and the like and move on to what Zuck calls "simple AI" allowing it to "do as I need" based on machine learning of the Facebook master's needs.
The resulting code, and a few API fiddles made sure Zuck could control Crestron, Sonos. Spotify, Samsung TV, Nest cam and patch Facebook's systems.
Some stuff was easier than others, the well known Zuckerberg uniform of grey t-shirt and his Dog-as-a-Mop Beast were experimented on with less success.
"Connecting a food dispenser for Beast or a grey t-shirt cannon would require hardware modifications to work."
But he did say that Jarvis was able to choose music effectively without any prompting. Simply "play some music" was enough to find the right song for the right moment.
He says Jarvis has taught him a lot, but has reminded him of how far off we are from true voice based AI.
"… we are still far off from understanding how learning works. Everything I did this year -- natural language, face recognition, speech recognition and so on -- are all variants of the same fundamental pattern recognition techniques. We know how to show a computer many examples of something so it can recognize it accurately, but we still do not know how to take an idea from one domain and apply it to something completely different.
Zuck hints that one day, this might even be a viable product for the masses, but that day isn't anytime soon.
"…over time it would be interesting to find ways to make this available to the world. I considered open sourcing my code, but it's currently too tightly tied to my own home, appliances and network configuration. If I ever build a layer that abstracts more home automation functionality, I may release that. Or, of course, that could be a great foundation to build a new product."
After running 365 miles in 2015, and making Jarvis this year, we'll be interested to see what Zuckerberg chooses as his project du annee next year. µ
Plus IoT factories and a pricey Pixel pouch
It's all fun and games until someone loses their rent
Speeding this way from the Spring
It's generating lower margins than smart-speaker rivals from Amazon and Google