Sunday 17 December 2017

The Punt: Zuckerberg to build a butler

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

Whereas many high-powered CEOs would probably hire an assistant to help around the house if needed, Mark Zuckerberg is going one better and building himself one.

The Facebook founder expressed his desire, in a Facebook post, naturally, to spend 2016 building an artificially intelligent assistant to help run his life at home and work.

Zuckerberg (pictured below) said he will start the project by exploring existing technology and then begin teaching the AI to understand his voice so that it will learn to control everything in his home.

The billionaire even directly compared the potential AI to Jarvis, the AI who appears in the Marvel comic books and movies as Tony Stark's butler. No pressure then.

The task is the latest to be taken on by the chief executive of the social networking site, who commits to a new personal challenge every year.

One of the toughest challenges he set was in 2010, when he vowed to learn Mandarin. Despite the language being notoriously difficult to pick up, in October last year he delivered a 20-minute speech to students at Beijing's Tsinghua University entirely in Mandarin.

Economist flags election worries

Another good year for the economy is projected for 2016, with strong growth (not as strong as last year though) forecast.

The Government will be hoping nothing will derail the recovery story between now and the election, and it's unlikely anything will. But market watchers are a little concerned about what may happen in the aftermath. The Economist magazine is the latest to flag concerns, warning that the general election will result in a more "unwieldy" coalition, and will make for a less stable and effective government.

As part of its World in 2016 predictions, the magazine said the Government that will be formed after the general election will undo "some of the confidence-building that has been a success of recent years".

That doesn't sound too optimistic.

But it's not all bad. The magazine predicts enough has been done so far to ensure the economy remains on track.

"The economy is recovering and should grow comfortably above the EU average," it said.

Top changes  at Musgrave

It's a decade since Philip Mackeown (49) joined the board of Cork-based retail group Musgrave as a non-executive director, but new company filings confirm that he has now left the family-owned business.

His planned departure was flagged last summer, with William Mackeown named to fill the position. Musgrave controls brands including SuperValu and Centra.

Philip Mackeown was originally appointed a director designate in 2005 for a period of one year, representing the interests of the Mackeown family. His father, Hugh Mackeown, was at the time the chairman of the group. William Mackeown, Philip's cousin, had been considered a frontrunner for the director designate role back then.

William Mackeown has a PhD in Computer Vision, and is a non-executive director of Rapid Addition, a financial technology company.

In November, Hugh Mackeown, who retired as Musgrave chairman in 2010, was awarded a business achievement award by Cork Chamber. He told the audience that Ireland's tax system does more to benefit multinationals than it does local businesses.

Irish Independent

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