Dublin, Ireland (BBN)-Facebook has been showing off the latest advancements in its image recognition research.
As well as talking about it at Dublin’s Web Summit event*, the company has outlined a few of the key points in a blog post, reports BBC.
They hope the technology – a blend of artificial intelligence and machine-learning – will be able to help blind people “see” images by enabling our computers to distinguish what is in a picture.
It’s an incredibly sophisticated task.
Next month, the company says it will present a paper detailing the progress it has made so far.
“Our AI research efforts – along with our work to develop radical new approaches to connectivity and our work to develop immersive new VR technologies – are a long-term endeavour,” wrote Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer.
“But if we can get them right we will be able to build systems that are smarter and more useful, enable developers to create immersive new experiences, and make it possible to connect everyone in the world.”
I’ll look in more depth at Facebook’s work when that paper is made public.
But first I wanted to share a little anecdote that hints at just how smart Facebook’s AI is becoming.
Or how scary it’s becoming, depending on your point of view.
About a month ago I spent a morning at Facebook’s new building in Menlo Park, catching up on various areas of the social network’s research – one of which was AI.
My guide showed me the image recognition system by handing me a pile of pictures of dogs. Each was a different breed.
I held up a picture of a Border Collie, and the machine would think for a moment before saying “Border Collie”.
Picture of a German Shepherd… a moment’s pause… “German Shepherd”.
It recognised each dog almost instantly.
Ok, very smart. But feeling sceptical, I wondered if the machine was just looking out for the specific picture – which is simple – rather than having a knowledge of dog breeds.
So I loaded up a photo of a friend’s bulldog on my phone, to see if the machine was smart enough to figure it out.
I held it up, the computer thought about it for a moment, and then it said…
Dave 0, Robot 1.