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Mark Zuckerberg Demos Jarvis, His Own Home AI Assistant (fastcompany.com) 100

harrymcc writes: As Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2016, he built Jarvis -- a service similar to Alexa or Google Assistant, but built to do exactly the things he wants to do in his home, and controllable by both voice and Messenger bot. Now that it's mostly complete, he demoed it for Fast Company's Daniel Terdiman. Terdiman writes: "In his January post announcing the Jarvis project, 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. And 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.' Now, in December, he has achieved all of that, save for the bit about VR. And it works. However, when he showed off the system to me in person, I learned that 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 iPhone, 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 iOS 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."
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Mark Zuckerberg Demos Jarvis, His Own Home AI Assistant

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  • Other than the facial recognition and text interface, the Amazon Echo pretty much does a great job of integrating all your smart home devices.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday December 19, 2016 @09:02PM (#53518983)

      the Amazon Echo pretty much does a great job of integrating all your smart home devices.

      No it doesn't. You need to buy a separate hub, such as a Wink, or Samsung Smarthings, and connect that to your Amazon Echo to bridge from Wifi to ZWave. I have both an Echo and a Google Home (hey, I love gadgets) and both of them have totally lame support for IoT.

      • Actually, Echo does connect directly to most of the popular IoT devices. It will connect directly to a Nest and I currently have it connected to several WeMo switches in my apartment without using a hub. The only hub I have is a harmony hub to control the channels on my TV and Roku.
        • It will connect directly to a Nest

          Anything can connect to a Nest. I can connect directly with my cellphone or a laptop. When people talk about "IoT" they usually don't mean an expensive device like a Nest, with a full computer built in. They mean things like light bulbs, door locks, and motion sensors. Without a separate hub, neither an Amazon Echo nor a Google Home can connect to any of those. With a separate hub, you don't need an Echo or Home, because you can control them through the hub with your cellphone.

          • When people talk about "IoT" they usually don't mean an expensive device like a Nest, with a full computer built in.

            You can get enough computer to do IoT stuff with WiFi for two bucks on eBay. It literally costs less than the display module, or a decent antenna.

        • Echo does connect directly to most of the popular IoT devices.

          You have a very strange definition of both most, and popular.

          Nest fits that description, but the rest of the "most popular" IoT devices are left in the dust.

          Actually you have a strange definition of "connect" and "directly" too. Nothing connects directly to a nest. Things connect to Nest's web based API including the Nest Thermostat and other devices themselves. You never talk directly to a Nest which is a little bit of a "eveything is IoT connected" joke.

    • by Motherfucking Shit ( 636021 ) on Monday December 19, 2016 @09:15PM (#53519061) Journal

      As a bonus, it also backs up all of your personal conversation and impassioned moanings to off-premises storage in sunny Bluffdale, Utah!

      • I don't get modpoints anymore but I would mod you up.

        1984 isn't required reading - and that's a shame.

      • Ok, I'm a personal privacy enthusiast, but isn't this taking paranoia a little far?

        Not the fact of the archiving, but the fact that you're talking about a MASSIVE amount of "noise" with no signal. I just don't see it as a problem. Just use a bit of forethought and OpSec if you actually have something to hide.

        The "signal" in fact gets better in this case. If anything, having Amazon & Google & whoever else working at cross-profit-maximizing-purpose seems...inefficient.
  • Clapper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday December 19, 2016 @08:41PM (#53518847)
    Works every time. So does my light switch thinking about it
    • Re: Clapper (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You have a thought controlled light switch?

    • By 'Clapper' do you mean the as-seen-on-tv acoustically controlled switch; or the NSA perjurer?

      In a 'smart home' scenario I could imagine either having control over the light switch.
    • I came here to point this out for different reasons.

      Clapper: Proof that people have been not wanting to use lightswitches for as long as lightswitches have existed.

  • Damn (Score:4, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday December 19, 2016 @08:52PM (#53518925) Homepage Journal
    Wow, the guy is a genius. He can TALK to an app and had it turn the lights off? And it only took four tries? Unbelievable. I'll bet Linus couldn't do that!
  • I doubt he did everything from scratch.

    Lucida [lucida.ai] from the University of Michigan looks to be a good self hosted solution to a backend and Jasper [github.io] a good voice front end.

    Home Assistant [home-assistant.io] integrates well with both Google Home and Amazon Echo.

    He had to tell the system four times to turn the lights off before it got dark."

    Then again, it sounds like he might have. Echo+HASS is much more consistent than that.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Given he built an iOS application, there is an entire home control integration framework in iOS, I am currently using it. My home also responds to voice controls (fairly efficiently at about 90% success rate) and can turn lights on/off, alarm, thermostat and computer control.

      I've been working on these things as a hobby for the last 7 years, voice control and all. Initially using X10, now with Insteon and ZWave as well. Nothing new Zuckerberg and my house costs probably 1% of yours.

      • Where would you say the current state of the art stands in home automation and control?

        I used to run some lights in my house on X10 but I'm suspicious of modern systems that all seem to depend on "The Cloud " to work their magic. I want my stuff hosted entirely here and nowhere else.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          Most of the "good" stuff doesn't even require 'the cloud'. Building in IP/WiFi stacks on switches and outlets is a bit too expensive (still) and doesn't do well in metal housings (which is often what electrical outlets are built in)

      • I've been working on these things as a hobby for the last 7 years,

        And I still have my original SheevaPlug that used to run my HVAC from PHP. I tried Vera Lite a few years ago but the UI was terrible and it never worked.

        Home Assistant on a Pi took me a weekend ... once I had the house wired. The longest part of the process is doing the electrical work. If you have a new build it's much 'cheaper' to the end consumer. It took me an entire weekend of my wife and son out of the house to turn of all electrical and do the manual labor. Did Zuckerberg actually wire his house or d

      • Given he built an iOS application, there is an entire home control integration framework in iOS, I am currently using it. My home also responds to voice controls (fairly efficiently at about 90% success rate) and can turn lights on/off, alarm, thermostat and computer control.

        I've been working on these things as a hobby for the last 7 years, voice control and all. Initially using X10, now with Insteon and ZWave as well. Nothing new Zuckerberg and my house costs probably 1% of yours.

        Everything except the facial recognition can be easily thrown together with HomeKit, a HomeKit-compatible "bridge", various off the shelf peripherals, and some scripts living in the Bridge. The facial recognition is probably something he had contracted, or a mire expensive than mere mortals can affor, but still "off the shelf" system that merely provides a "switch closure" that runs yet another Bridge script. Not so amazing for someone with his money. And 95% is not even amazing for you and me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Engineering, make this for me" == "I made this"
  • Come on people (like MZ), admit it - you just want to be a brain in vat, and do everything by thought. Turn your fucking lights off with a switch, like everyone else. Go to the door and greet your fucking friends, if they're your friends, and you actually have any. Really, this is just ridiculous. It is hard to imagine anything more unimportant.

    • I agree. I have been hearing about home automation, including "look I can turn off the lights", for decades. Is turning off the lights really a problem in life?
      • Turning off the lights is not. Automatically pausing the DVR when the doorbell rings is the kind of useful I'd want. Light switches are already at the entrance/exit of the room - the same place you usually already are when you want to switch the lights.

        • Why? You can't push a button on a remote? Christ. Have someone else answer the door.
          • Attention shift happens as soon as the doorbell rings. If you don't want to miss anything, the response time should be immediate. Either way, blaming innovation on laziness will just undo most of the 20th and 21st century's progress.

            • Automatically pausing the DVR when the doorbell rings is the kind of useful I'd want.

              Why? You can't push a button on a remote?

              Attention shift happens as soon as the doorbell rings. If you don't want to miss anything, the response time should be immediate.

              Yes. It's not like DVRs have a rewind button - geesh.

              • It was merely one example - one that I haven't personally implemented either. I have gone out of my way to put photo caller ID on my DVR screen, however, because I'm very bad with faces/names. Not necessarily under the banner of home "automation" but it's a smart home thing and it's fairly automatic now (pulls from my Gmail contacts).

    • Come on people (like MZ), admit it - you just want to be a brain in vat, and do everything by thought. Turn your fucking lights off with a switch, like everyone else. Go to the door and greet your fucking friends, if they're your friends, and you actually have any. Really, this is just ridiculous. It is hard to imagine anything more unimportant.

      The point of home automation is to (a) integrate various technologies around the home while (b) providing a convenient, intuitive, easy to use interface for doing so. I'm sure the same objections were made in the past about *every* technological advance...

      • "Use fire to provide light at night? Just go to sleep, like everyone else does."
      • "Cook your meat? Just eat it raw, like everyone else does."
      • "Domesticate and ride a horse? Just walk, like everyone else does."

      There are legitimate concerns when it comes to

      • The problem with your argument is that the demos today are exactly the same as the demos from 15 years ago (seriously I was doing this same basic automation commands for light on/off with off the shelf x10 equipment and perl web interfaces at university in 2010 - and that want even in the CS program).

        Voice recognition libraries were available even then with Dragonspeak integration. Add the contextual understanding and there might be something here - but as of right now he's bragging about problems solved si

      • The point of home automation is to (a) integrate various technologies around the home while (b) providing a convenient, intuitive, easy to use interface for doing so. I'm sure the same objections were made in the past about *every* technological advance...
        "Use fire to provide light at night? Just go to sleep, like everyone else does."
        "Cook your meat? Just eat it raw, like everyone else does."
        "Domesticate and ride a horse? Just walk, like everyone else does."

        There are legitimate concerns when it comes to the hows and whys of home automation... but this reflexive nay-saying isn't among them. It's just lazy objection for objection's sake.

        Your argument is the flipside of the same coin and cannot be falsified.

        If you think this particular technology is valuable you are welcome to provide a merit based justification for your position. Just saying the same objections were made about everything is the same as saying nothing at all because the same argument can be applied without limit to justify ANYTHING.

        Nobody in the HA crowd has ever been able to offer a coherent value proposition for how HA could improve *my* life that would in any way be use

        • Nobody in the HA crowd has ever been able to offer a coherent value proposition for how HA could improve *my* life that would in any way be useful to *me*.

          "Alexa, find my wife's phone ..."

        • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

          "Nobody in the HA crowd has ever been able to offer a coherent value proposition for how HA could improve *my* life that would in any way be useful to *me*. Until this changes I will continue to blindly assume HA is a pointless waste of time and money with increasingly massive malware/privacy issues."

          It's not the first time someone has bragged about their willful ignorance.

          Saying that there is no value proposition to HA is like saying there is no point in painting the walls different colors. If the extent

          • It's not the first time someone has bragged about their willful ignorance

            As mentioned I stand willing to be enlightened. You seem more interested in throwing insults than supporting your position with merit based argument demonstrating value of HA. This is of course nothing new. Most HA proponents I've spoken to have taken this very tact.

            Saying that there is no value proposition to HA is like saying there is no point in painting the walls different colors.

            Your saying HA is not supposed to be functional but rather decorative?

            If the extent of your lighting is limited to a single ceiling fixture in your room then lighting automation, as an example, is not valuable to you. This reflects more on your lack of sophistication than on HA's value proposition. HA is a tool to achieve desirable ends, not an end in itself, and the problem here is your lack of vision.

            I'm not sophisticated. I don't live in a mansion and flicking on and off light switches is not something I chose to waste my time developing a "vision" for how to improve.

  • Where's the suit of powered armor, Zuckerberg?

  • He had to tell the system four times to turn the lights off before it got dark.

    Maybe it's his spouse?

  • but having the arrogant so and so name it after a butler bother's me. Maybe if he coulda got the 'Jeevs' name (it sounds sillier than Jarvis).

    Oh, and besides the voice activation we had this kind of crap on my C64. I remember seeing advertised in computer catelogs back in the day and thought it was awesome. I sorta out grew it though. I mean, I can turn my own lights off. Maybe when I'm 80 I can't, in which case I could see this being useful.
    • by mchall ( 4527517 )
      Clearly the reference to Tony Stark's (a.k.a. Iron Man) computer assistant/personal valet is lost on you.
  • And it's news because he's got a high profile full time job.

    Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff which, ... umm, ok move on folks

  • It's clear Jarvis as an A.I. assistant predates Zuckenberg's use of it and that he is poaching on the value of the name.

    I'm sure Marvel's lawyers will contact him for an appropriate licensing fee. But they might wait to see if it succeeds under that name and then go for bigger bucks.

  • Want to bet that this "personal assistant" doesn't have to upload every and any kind of information you share with it, willingly or otherwise, to Facebook?

  • Is it really an AI when it just responds directly to commands? AI implies some kind of dynamic response... Not precalculated and preprogrammed

  • Not afraid of that happening. Zuck is no Tony Stark.

  • When I was a child I read about a children's cartoon, Scrooge McDuck, who had an automated home. The doors would open ahead of you, the kitchen would prepare your food, it had a traditional style barber, (but automated of course) a tailor that would take your measurements, and many other pleasant robotic friends.That has always been my vision of an automated home. Don't get me wrong, I know we're 30 years from that being possible. And I'm not complaining about these "home automation" apps. If you're into th
  • I've tried doing this, using various open source projects. I find it lacking, if others have more input to add that'd be great, but my findings... Sadly there are some windows/closed solutions that work better.

    To start it all starts with speech recondition engines, called, STT, Speech To Text. Pocketsphinx, I haven't found one that really works. (you could "for limited use" use google's, or apple, but I'm excluding those two) Wit.ai has a dev one you can use pretty much unlimited that I find very inaccura

  • Pardon me Jarvis, but may I ask who gives a damn? I'm sorry Zuck - may I call you Zuck? - outside yourself and some fanbois absolutely no one.
  • by drjzzz ( 150299 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2016 @06:29PM (#53526707) Homepage Journal
    "He had to tell the system four times to turn the lights off before it got dark."
    And *that* time he he called Jarvis by its nickname, "Alexa".
  • by TomGreenhaw ( 929233 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2016 @11:33PM (#53527909)
    I think its cool that a guy with essentially unlimited resources wants to get his hands dirty and do something real for himself. It sounds like he didn't use an army of developers to develop a commercial product, but that he whipped up something on his own to gain a better understanding of what the challenges are for machine learning and a home control system.
  • Now we know we can hold a picture from that video of his parents up to his door camera and have access to his house!
    Actually I think Mark is smarter than most people of Facebook give him credit for, it is not always the smartest people in the world that make the most money, and money is not the best way to grade people on how smart they are, but that does not make the guy an idiot. I would say he is much more tech savoy than many of the CEO of major tech companies and at least he seem to have a vision of we

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