In the year 2008 Robert Downey Jr. starred in the first Marvel Studios film that would become the foundation of the nigh-unstoppable moneymaking blockbuster franchise that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In “Iron Man”, Downey’s character of Tony Stark is assisted in his work, home and in operating his hi-tech armor by a servile yet snide super-AI named “JARVIS” (a big upgrade of sorts for Stark’s human butler Edwin Jarvis from the original comics). But I digress. Ever since then there’s been a rise in the development of AI assistants usually tied to mobile operating systems like OK Google and Apple’s Siri. Even consoles have gotten into the act with Windows 10’s Cortana.
Facebook founder and tech visionary Mark Zuckerberg is hoping to one-up all these with the development of a master AI to manage his smart-home. According to Entertainment Tonight Online, the AI will be named Jarvis after the one in the Marvel films. He first revealed his latest venture in a showcase video hosted on his social media platform of FB, where it shows how Jarvis can in theory run all the functions of the house for Zuckerberg while carrying on a conversation, which includes bleeding- edge capabilities like recognizing friends or relatives, then automatically unlocking the front door for them.
Perhaps the best thing about the Jarvis AI is something not in the specs, but in the heart so to speak. An intelligent system that’s able to speak vocally should ideally have a nice voice to hear and talk to, so Zuckerberg has gotten the voice talent services of veteran actor Morgan Freeman, arguably one of the best and most soothing celebrity speakers in like, ever. It’s also been reported that during the early stages of conceptualizing Jarvis, Robert Downey Jr. himself offered the likeness of his voice for the real- life AI, under certain unpublicized conditions. Zuckerberg then decided to put the matter of sourcing his AI’s voice sample in a public vote on Facebook, with Freeman being the runaway winner.
The Jarvis project was touted to be able to control all functions of Zuckerberg’s smart-home by means of the man himself issuing his instructions on a phone app for Jarvis to register. Lights go on and off at Mark’s bidding; the temperature adjusts accordingly too. And perhaps the most ambitious ability that Zuckerberg wants for the AI is being able to speak foreign languages other than English. The promo video has Jarvis-in- Freeman’s-voice giving lessons in Mandarin to Mark’s baby daughter Max.
Zuckerberg stated in a FB post that his goal with Jarvis was to learn more about the development of artificial intelligence, the challenges of which help him get a sense of all the tech that goes into operating Facebook, and an overview of feasible home automation.
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