Last January, Zuckerberg announced that he planned to build an AI system to run his home using Facebook tools, in the latest of the personal-growth challenges he gives himself each year.
Zuckerberg says he has always enjoyed sitting down and build something that does exactly what you want it to do. Over the last year, Zuckerberg has spent between 100 and 150 hours on his home project.
Though it’s named for Tony Stark’s futuristic Jarvis AI in the Iron Man movies, it’s more akin to a homemade, highly personal version of something like Amazon’s Alexa service, letting him and his wife Priscilla Chan use a custom iPhone app or a Facebook Messenger bot to turn lights on and off, play music based on personal tastes, open the front gate for friends, make toast, and even wake up their one-year-old daughter Max with Mandarin lessons.
Zuckerberg wrote that he’d set out to build a system allowing him to control everything in the house, including music, lights, and temperature, with his voice. He also wanted Jarvis to let his friends in the house just by looking at their faces when they arrive and to alert him to anything important going on in Max’s room.
He hoped to design the system to ‘visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations [at Facebook] more efficiently.’
He claims he has done all of that other than the bit about VR. And it works. It is not perfect. It sometimes needs a little coddling. Zuckerberg began by demoing the Messenger bot he’d built as a front end for the system. Using his smartphone, he typed simple commands to turn the lights off and on, and sure enough, they went off and then on.
On the other hand, he also built the system to respond to voice commands, via a custom app he’d created, and there, the results were decidedly more inconsistent. He had to tell the system four times to turn the lights off before it got dark.”
He is a bit of a way away from strapping on the suit and saving the world. To be fair though Zuckerburg is really just proving that he still has the ability to program despite being the head of a huge business.