5 Things You Should Know About Jarvis, Mark Zuckerberg’s AI Rival to Amazon’s Alexa
Mark Zuckerberg is not the type to quit a New Year’s resolution. Over the past few years Zuckerberg has let the world in on the unique “personal challenges” that he partakes in throughout the year. Past challenges have included learning Chinese and only eating meat from animals that he killed himself.
2016’s personal challenge was a little more tech-related than some of his past ventures. Zuckerberg has spent the past year creating an AI system named Jarvis that is customized specifically to his family’s home.
According to Reuters, Zuckerberg created the system in about 100 hours over the past year in an effort to learn more about the state of artificial intelligence, as it exists right now.
However, just because Jarvis is currently customized for Zuckerberg’s home, doesn’t mean he won’t go mainstream with it down the line. In an online Facebook post (because of course) Zuckerberg stated his interest in finding ways to make Jarvis available to the world over time.
Should Zuckerberg proceed, Amazon’s Alexa might have a real rival on its hands based on what we’ve learned so far. Here are 5 things you should know about Jarvis, Alexa’s possible rival:
1. It comes with the voice of God
Morgan Freeman’s voice to be exact. No word on whether that would pertain to all future versions of Jarvis but after asking the public to weigh in, Freeman emerged as the decisive winner regarding whose voice should be used to power Jarvis. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice was also experimented with and Zuckerberg stated that he is still working with other voices. However, for now, Freeman’s voice tops the list by popular demand.
2. It can create a connected household
This should be no surprise for anyone familiar with Amazon’s Alexa. However, it’s worth noting that Jarvis was built to connect different systems, all of which speak different languages and have different protocols. The Zuckerbergs use a Crestron system for their lights, thermostat and doors, a Sonos system for their music and they have a Samsung TV and a Nest cam.
Of course, some appliances aren’t connected to the Internet yet. For instance, Zuckerberg was able to rig an old toaster from the 1950s up with a connected switch to connect the dumb appliance to his system. One of his major takeaways, as noted on Facebook, is that for assistants like Jarvis to really take off, the industry needs to develop common APIs and standards to allow all devices, not just some, to talk to each other.
3. It has facial recognition capabilities
According to Zuckerberg, facial recognition is a difficult version of object recognition because of how similar most people look. Zuckerberg installed multiple cameras at his front door in order to capture every visitor’s image from every angle. He also built a server that continually watches the cameras and runs a two-step process. It first runs a face detection to see if anyone has come into view, and then it identifies that person once it recognizes they are there. Jarvis can then check a list to confirm that the person at the door is expected. If they are, it will let them in and alert Zuckerberg of their presence in his house.
4. It’s not just voice-activated
There’s been a lot of talk about voice control as the new frontier recently but Zuckerberg stated his belief on Facebook that the future of AI can’t solely be focused on voice. Interfaces for private messaging will have to be developed as well. To do this with Jarvis, Zuckerberg built a Messenger bot that he could communicate with through his phone via text as well as voice.
“One thing that surprised me about my communication with Jarvis is that when I have the choice of either speaking or texting, I text much more than I would have expected. This is for a number of reasons, but mostly it feels less disturbing to people around me,” Zuckerberg wrote.
5. It’s still being developed
Zuckerberg is taking suggestions on how to farther develop Jarvis. He’s asked his followers to leave him suggestions via Facebook on how to farther build out his AI system. Anyone with good (or bad) ideas is welcome to contribute to what could be the next big thing in AI.