4Q EARNINGS CALL: Mark Zuckerberg Discusses Artificial Intelligence

By David Cohen 

BrainChip650Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shed some light on the social network’s plans in the field of artificial intelligence during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Wednesday.

Responding to a question from Robert W. Baird & Co. Analyst Colin Sebastian, Zuckerberg said:

In the last quarter, Yann LeCun — one of the really earliest folks, and one of the founders of deep learning, and a professor at NYU — joined us to lead our AI group. And this is a long-term research group that we have. It’s going to fit into our strategy over a longer, maybe five- or 10-year period.

And their goal is really just to try to understand how everything on Facebook is connected, by understanding what the posts that people write mean, and the content that is in the photos and videos that people are sharing, and helping people with tasks like if you’re sharing a voice clip in messenger, being able to transcribe that for people, so that they can receive it more easily.

So these are some pretty big tasks in AI that are things that we have teams that are working on that will need to be researched over time, and that will have obvious implications for the products that we do, but over time, the real value will be if we can understand the meaning of all of the content that people are sharing, then we can just provide much more relevant experiences for people across everything that we do.

Internally, we talk about our strategy, and there’s a three-year strategy, a five-year strategy, and a 10-year strategy. And the three-year plan is really all about building new kinds of experiences for sharing, like so many of the questions on this call have been about. The five-year approach is really mostly about helping people use their network to answer interesting questions or solve problems that they have.

And that’s where all the Graph Search work and the Open Graph work and some of the early parts of the AI work that we’re doing you’re going to start to see over that period of time. And then over a 10-year period, I think you’ll really start to see a lot of the impact of some of the Internet.org work that we’re doing, where hopefully we’ll see some impact a lot sooner than that, as well.

But over a 10-year period, if we can get a lot more of the world on the Internet, I think that’s going to really mean a quite different world in terms of what folks in a lot of developing countries have access to in terms of some of the things I said in my opening remarks, around basic financial services, and people can get credit to start businesses, and buy homes, really life-changing stuff, or get access to health information or education materials, which I think are just a really big deal. And over the long term, we’ve always wanted to help out with that, and I think that’s where we’re going to go on that.

Readers: What do you think of Zuckerberg’s vision for how Facebook can use AI?

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