Facebook is a relative newcomer to the artificial intelligence race. IBM’s “Watson,” Apple’s “Siri,” and Microsoft’s “Cortana” all have a head start but Facebook is working hard to catch up. Their newly established artificial intelligence team consists of less than a hundred people for now but that number is expected to grow drastically in the coming years. Here’s a look at some of the human-like skills that Facebook’s iteration of artificial intelligence is already starting to master.
One of the challenges in creating artificial intelligence is getting a computer to comprehend spoken language like humans do. Facebook’s artificial intelligence uses natural language processing similar to Apple’s “Siri” to understand and respond to questions or requests posed by humans. So far, the questions and requests it can respond to are quite limited but it’s progress.
Facebook’s artificial intelligence is also learning how to read. So in addition to comprehending spoken language, it’s also able to get meaning out of words on a page. Not only can it “read” a book, such as Lord of the Rings, but it is able to search within its data bank and answer questions about books it has read.
In the past, Facebook has relied on Bing’s translating tool to automatically translate posts and comments in a foreign language so that users can understand what those with different languages are saying online. Now, Facebook is working on its own real-time translating prototype. These auto-translator are often very inaccurate so they have a team of testers providing input and grading it’s accuracy in translating so that it can learn and improve.
Facebooks already has auto-captioning. It can see a two-dimensional image and automatically tag people in the image using facial recognition software. But the software Facebook is working on now will go a step further. It will be able to read aloud the names of people in photos which will be helpful to blind people who are commenting on photos in their newsfeed.
Facebook can do more than identify people in images. Facebook can also recognize a wide range of objects and identify them correctly. It can event differentiate between hundreds of animal species and correctly identify them, something that most humans can’t even do.
Finally, Facebook can watch sports footage and identify the sport being played in the video. This goes beyond just identifying something isolated in the footage like a baseball glove. Facebook’s artificial intelligence had to learn the rules of various sports and be able to recognize them in action in order to be able to correctly identify the sport.