Mark Zuckerberg to build robot butler to look after his child as part of 2016 New Year's resolution

The system will be able to control his lights and music as well as helping him run his company

Andrew Griffin
Monday 04 January 2016 10:28 GMT
Alicia Vikander in a scene from 'Ex Machina'
Alicia Vikander in a scene from 'Ex Machina'

Mark Zuckerberg intends to build a robot to look after his house and keep tabs on his newborn daughter.

The Facebook founder and CEO’s resolution for 2016 is to build an artificially intelligent system that will be able to control his house, watch over his child and help him to run Facebook.

Mr Zuckerberg has in the past taken on “personal challenges” that have included reading two books per month, learning Mandarin and meeting a new person each day. But now he has undertaken perhaps his most ambitious plan — an artificially intelligent robot that seems to be able to run his whole house.

“My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work,” he wrote. “You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.”

Facebook has been working hard on AI systems as a company, including building computers that can recognise the contents of a picture and then make sure it is shown properly on Facebook.

But other technologists and scientists have expressed concerns about such plans. People such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have worried that artificial intelligence will go on to have too much power and could damage humanity.

Those worries were dramatised in last year’s Ex Machina. That film also showed an AI-obsessed boss of a huge technology firm who lived in a computer-controlled house, who went on to create a dangerous robot out of the masses of data he had on his users.

Ex Machina Exclusive Interview With Alex Garland & Alicia Vikander

Mr Zuckerberg responded to worries about the technology, in response to a commenter that asked whether AI could become "so intelligent that it could run the world like in movies".

"I think we can build AI so it works for us and helps us," he wrote. "Some people fear-monger about how AI is a huge danger, but that seems far-fetched to me and much less likely than disasters due to widespread disease, violence, etc."

Others were concerned that he could make killer robots.

"Just don't accidentally create skynet," said one user, referencing the self-aware AI that brought chaos in the Terminator films. Mr Zuckerbg said that he would "be careful".

Mr Zuckerberg said that he would start by looking into existing technologies. That seemed to be a reference to the burgeoning products in the so-called “internet of things” — WiFi-connected speakers and lights, for instance.

“I'm going to start by exploring what technology is already out there,” he wrote. “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.”

Mr Zuckerberg also said that the system would help him with his work. It would do so using virtual reality, another technology that Facebook has invested heavily in with its acquisition of Oculus, the headset-making firm.

“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.

“Every challenge has a theme, and this year's theme is invention.”

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