Facebook’s Zuckerberg Takes Next Step to Becoming Tony Stark with Plans to Build His Own AI

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New Year's Resolutions are made to be broken, but at least one prominent player in the tech industry is keen to up the ante. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his latest "personal challenge" late Sunday, one of several goals that the billionaire executive and philanthropist has publicly made in recent years. After completing previous challenges to read two books per month, meet a new person each day, and learn Mandarin, Mr. Zuckerberg now wants to take things to an even more ambitious level: creating a personal AI assistant.

mark zuckerberg iron man

Likening the project's goal to a simple version of Iron Man's J.A.R.V.I.S., Mr. Zuckerberg envisions a program that will intelligently handle the environmental conditions of his home -- lighting, music, temperature, etc. -- automatically open the door for certain friends and family members based on facial recognition technology, and monitor the health and activity of his young son. When it's time to get down to work, Mr. Zuckerberg also foresees the AI helping him to visualize data in virtual reality, no doubt with the help of Oculus VR, which Facebook acquired for $2 billion in mid-2014.

Many of the goals and tasks that Mr. Zuckerberg plans for his eventual AI assistant are of course already familiar in the growing industries of home control and digital assistants. Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and many other companies have all begun projects and services dealing with personal assistants and home automation to various degrees of complexity and success.

Mr. Zuckerberg's initiative isn't necessarily a repudiation of these existing efforts, but rather a personal experiment, the fruits of which may someday evolve into Facebook's official product offering in this space. Indeed, Mr. Zuckerberg states that his first step for his AI project is "exploring what technology is already out there." The Facebook founder is certainly already aware of the functionality of major services such as Siri (and HomeKit), Google Now, Cortana, and Amazon's Echo (Alexa), but it will be interesting to see what aspects of each service are kept or reworked in the final product, and if said product makes its way into the public spotlight.

If the final design of Mr. Zuckerberg's AI is wearing a bow tie, however, a certain company and its fans may just lose it.

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Likening the project’s goal to a simple version of Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S., Mr. Zuckerberg envisions a program that will intelligently handle the environmental conditions of his home—lighting, music, temperature, etc.—automatically open the door for certain friends and family members based on facial recognition technology, and monitor the health and activity of his young son.

And then send all of this data to Facebook’s servers to be parsed and diced and sold off to advertisers.

I trust nothing that Zuckerberg does.


I understand that the young gentleman is smarter than about 99.9999% of the population, but he’s not about to accomplish what a small army of AI researches, some as smart or smarter than him, have failed to do in 30+ years of research.  Which is to build a true AI machine rather than just another brute-force computer tailored to his specific personal data. Please stop participating in the overhype machine.


Oh, I wouldn’t say he’s smarter, just luckier (Facebook was largely a matter of timing, just like Windows in the early days) and less bound by ethics than non-sociopaths. I don’t trust anything he or his associates do, either.


Absolutely correct Jamie. Zuckerberg is not smarter than the people working in AI, or even most of humanity. Just as Gates was not nearly as good a programmer as those he hired. In both cases they were ruthless businessmen, nothing more. You can become rich in business with a bit of luck and a lack of ethics. It does not imply or even require intelligence, or wisdom, or even imagination. Just being in the right place at the right time and not thinking about the consequences for others.

Ex: Ballmer.


Let’s not kid ourselves.  We might not like Gates and Zuck but they are pretty damned smart.  Most people who built giant companies will be humble and say that they were lucky.  Yeah, they probably benefited from some lucky turn of events, like being at the right place at the right time at the beginning, but to build and sustain a billion-dollar company for years takes serious smarts. 

There are certain things they can do that we mortals can’t, one of the most critical ones for running a corporation is the ability to hold, synthesize, and analyze way more pieces of information at a faster pace then we do.  Steve Jobs is famously known to have put a limit of 100 people that he can productively interact directly with at Apple and so the annual management conference was limited to the 100 most critical employees.  100 is a lot!  Not a lot of people can interact with that many people in one setting and organize all the information generated by those interactions into a coherent whole.

There is a reason beyond sheer luck or sociopathy that some people run Fortune 500 companies while we go about posting inconsequential comments on the web.


Tony Stark?  Surely you mean Nathan from Ex Machina, am I right?  Scary.

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