Earlier this year, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, set himself the personal challenge to build a simple AI to run his home. The billionaire had taken inspiration from Marvel’s Iron Man, who also has an AI called Jarvis which helps him. Now, just under a year later, Zuckerberg has made big strides in his project.
In a blog post on Facebook, he wrote:
“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.”
To accomplish all of these tasks, several artificial intelligence techniques were implemented including natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition, and reinforcement learning. He used Python, PHP and Objective-C to program the software.
In building the system, Zuckerberg had to overcome many problems, in the natural language department, he had to make his AI learn synonyms so that it could switch the light on in the appropriate room, for example, it needed to understand that “family room” and “living room” meant the same thing. When it comes to music, where the requests are a lot different from switching the lights on or off, Mark said he tends to make more open-ended requests, for instance, if he tells the system to play music he can tell it to play something lighter, and it learns as it goes what 'light' music is.
Aside from being able to talk to the AI, a text interface was implemented allowing Zuckerberg to issue commands over Messenger using the bot service, this allows him to interact with it outside the home. He mentions in his post that he can also send audio clips to the AI’s server where they’re translated into text and then executed. By utilising messaging and facial recognition, he is able to get images of anyone that comes knocking at his door, straight to his phone.
If you’re wondering whether you’ll ever get access to this, the answer is not right now. The Facebook CEO has considered releasing the code for public consumption, but currently it’s too tightly tied to his environment. If he gets around to building a layer which abstracts more home automation functionality, however, he may release that. Zuckerberg said this project is now over but he will go back to implement a few extra features and anything new that he thinks of.