Facebook's About To Get A Whole Lot Smarter

Facebook's about to get a huge intelligence boost. Sort of. In a Q3 earnings call yesterday afternoon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his organization has recently created an Artificial Intelligence Unit. In pretty much the same breath, he also announced that they're working on setting up speech recognition.

I'm pretty sure the two are in some way related.

Now, Zuckerberg didn't necessarily say as much, but it's fairly common knowledge that the Turing Test - the exam which determines how 'humanlike' or 'advanced' a machine's intelligence has become - is designed to be carried out in conversation. With that said, it wouldn't be all that much of a stretch to think that Facebook intends to use whatever speech recognition project it's working on in tandem with its new AI.

As for what the intelligence is going to be used for...

After announcing the AI, Zuckerberg immediately launched into an explanation of Facebook's search developments, Post Search and Graph Search. According to Zuckerberg, the social network currently has an index of somewhere around 1.2 trillion posts, all searchable. That's a positively staggering amount of information, and virtually impossible for any human being to sift through in a reasonable amount of time.

Presumably, that's where the AI comes in. 

"In September, we formed the Facebook AI Group to do world-class artificial intelligence research using all the knowledge that people have shared on Facebook. The goal here is to use new approaches in AI to help make sense of all the content that people share so we can generate new insights about the world to answer people's questions." 

"We started assembling a team of the best people in the field to work on these problems," he continued. e also announced the acquisition of Mobile Technologies, a speech recognition and machine translation company that will help expand our work in the field beyond just photo recognition to voice. Over time, I think it is going to be possible to build services that are much more natural to interact with and can help solving many more problems than any existing technologies today. I am excited that we are working on this problem and I am looking forward to doing a lot more here."

Seems pretty clear what Zuckerberg and his team are aiming to do here, no? A Siri-esque, voice-activated search engine capable of engaging in conversation with the user and tabulating billions upon trillions of search results could be just the boost Facebook's search engine needs to put it on even footing with Google. Then again, it might be total flop, too. Right now, it's just too early to say.

It would still know.It would still know.

One thing is certain, though: if such an intelligence were ever to gain malevolent sentience, we'd pretty much be hosed: it'd know everything there is to know about us.