This actor played God, and now he’s voicing Mark Zuckerberg’s AI system

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a conference at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a conference at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

First there was Siri, then Alexa and Cortana, home artificial intelligence (AI) devices who subserved to human’s every demand.

But for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a generic computerized voice just wasn’t going to cut it for his personal AI assistant. He needed to the voice of God himself –Morgan Freeman.

That’s right – Zuckerberg got Freeman to be the voice of his homemade AI assistant Jarvis, a name that may also sound familiar to Iron Man fans as Jarvis is the name of Tony Stark’s AI.

“My personal challenge for 2016 was to build a simple AI to run my home – like Jarvis in Iron Man,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “My goal was to learn about the state of artificial intelligence – where we’re further along than people realize and where we’re still a long ways off. These challenges always lead me to learn more than I expected, and this one also gave me a better sense of all the internal technology Facebook engineers get to use, as well as a thorough overview of home automation.”

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According to Zuckerberg, the system can control his Palo Alto, CA home (including lights, temperature, appliances and security), learn his tastes and patterns and new words and concepts. The system can be controlled by verbal commands, through a smartphone and computer.

Zuckerberg asked Facebook users for suggestions of who they thought should be the voice of his new system back in October.

The billionaire received over 50,000 comments to his thread and among the suggested names were Benedict Cumberbatch, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Samuel L. Jackson.

READ MORE: How Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to combat fake news

Even Robert Downey Jr. , who many users offered up as a suggestion, heard about Zuckerberg’s plan and wrote on the Facebook thread that he would “do it in a heartbeat.”

To which Zuckerberg replied, “This just got real.”

Zuckerberg has since released two videos that demonstrated Jarvis’s abilities. Combined, both videos garnered over six million views between Monday and Wednesday afternoon.

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As for what’s next, Zuckerberg says he will be building an Android app, setting up Jarvis voice terminals in more rooms around his home and connecting more appliances.

Thinking longer term, Zuckerberg wants to teach Jarvis how it can learn new skills itself rather than have a human teach it specific tasks.

“Building Jarvis was an interesting intellectual challenge, and it gave me direct experience building AI tools in areas that are important for our future,” he writes. “Finally, over time it would be interesting to find ways to make this available to the world.”

A full explanation of how Zuckerberg constructed Jarvis can be found by clicking here.