Friday 17 November 2017

Web Summit: Facebook working on AI 'so computers evaluate photographs like humans'

Mike Schroepfer from FACEBOOK speaking about 'Connecting thre World' at the Web Summit at the RDS.
Pic Steve Humphreys
3rd November 2015.
Mike Schroepfer from FACEBOOK speaking about 'Connecting thre World' at the Web Summit at the RDS. Pic Steve Humphreys 3rd November 2015.

Paul O'Donoghue

Facebook is working on artificial intelligence that will be able to evaluate the world in a similar way to humans, such as being able to tell what is happening in users' photos.

Speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin, Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer outlined the main technology developments that the US giant is aiming to make over the next decade.

Mr Schroepfer said that the company’s artificial intelligence team has already trained its computer vision system to identify individual objects from photos and label them, such as a bat being held by a baseball player.

“So much of the world, and so much of the sharing on social networks is photos and videos...so one of the keys to making systems that work is teaching computers to understand the visual world,” he said.

By identifying individual elements of photos, Facebook will be better able to understand what users do and don’t want to see, Mr Schroepfer said.

The company has also completed a prototype of its Aquila drone which can can beam a wifi signal to areas of the globe that are not served by a cell tower, allowing more people around the world to get online.

The drone will be solar-powered and able to stay in the air for up to three months without needing maintenance. Each drone will be able to cover a radius of about 50 miles.

Mr Schroepfer said that the firm “has a full scale version fully constructed which will be undergoing flight tests very soon.”

Facebook is also looking to better its virtual reality technology, such as the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset which is set to launch at the start of next year.

Mr Schroepfer said Facebook is looking at developing technology that will allow users to get more of their body involved in virtual reality, as well as just a headset.

“Imagine what happens when you bring in all parts of the body into it [virtual reality] and the full power of the real world.

"These are some of the problems that the Oculus research group is undertaking to try to understand what are all elements of the world bring into VR for a truly immersive experience,” he said.

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