Facebook users will soon be asked if they’re sure they want to upload certain photos onto the social media platform thanks to new artificial intelligence (AI) technology that the company is building into its image recognition software.
At a Facebook event in London last night, Facebook’s VP of engineering, Jay Parikh, said the platform’s image recognition software will start alerting users if they’re about to upload certain types of photos that they might not want everyone to see.
This led Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain to jokingly ask Parikh if the advances would be enough to stop him uploading pictures of his penis onto Facebook and Parikh reassured him that they would.
Ó Briain said “My perennial fear of accidentally posting a photograph of my penis … this may be the software that allows me to sleep at night?”
Parikh replied: “Yep”.
Ó Briain continued: “Honestly that’s all I wanted to hear. Who hasn’t lain awake at night making sure there wasn’t a reflection?”
Facebook will also be able to alert users if they’re about to upload pictures of their children to Facebook that would be visible to the public, Parikh added.
“If I were to upload a photo of my kids playing at the park and I accidentally had it shared with the public, this system could say hey wait a minute, this photo is of your kids,” he said. “Normally you post this to just your family members. Are you sure you want to do this?”
But Facebook doesn’t know how long it will be before these features are rolled out to user accounts.
“It’s still really on, these are demoes right now. They have not made it into our products,” said Parikh. “We have to figure out that still.”
Facebook is one of several large technology companies investing heavily in the controversial field of artificial intelligence.
AI has the potential to greatly enhance products and services like Facebook but scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned that super intelligent machines could pose a threat to the very existence of humanity.
The heads of several AI companies, including Google’s DeepMind, are meeting in New York in early 2016 to discuss the ethical implications of developing AI software.
“We’re investing in AI and really specifically a field called deep learning to help people understand the world around them,” said Parikh.
He said AI will also help Facebook “to process all of this data in a much more sophisticated way so that the products we build remain useful and valuable.”
In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s company opened a new AI Research Lab in Paris to support its existing AI teams in Silicon Valley and New York.
The Paris team was created to work on long-term research projects in image recognition, natural language processing, speech recognition, and the kinds of physical and logical infrastructure required to run these AI systems.
The comments were made during a “fireside chat” in Bedford Square’s Private Gardens in Central London.
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