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Humanizing Tech

"Facebook Patents Revealed" in Humanizing Tech

Predicting their future product roadmap

I. Background

You might be surprised to learn that as recently as 2010 Facebook only had one single engineer building their iPhone app. One. His name was Joe Hewitt. He believed in mobile even when the rest of the company was focused on desktop.

It seems silly now, but that’s the way with tech sometimes. Even those in the know get it wrong and don’t invest until the ship is already out to sea. Zuck didn’t make the same mistake with VR. Facebook’s Oculus acquisition jump-started the Valley into virtual reality overdrive, even if others like Playstation had been already working on it in secret for years.

And in one single year, they not only caught up to the pros like Piksel in the online video streaming industry, they also made remarkable advances in productizing artificial narrow intelligence. Pretty soon that photo of you from a weird angle will always be able to recognize you.

Remember the Michael Crichton book, Rising Sun, where they used a bit of photoshop magic to cover up a crime? This is sort of like that, only much more accurate. When AI can predict crime before you do it, can you still be arrested?

Make no mistake. Facebook’s artificial intelligence identity software is used by, and will continue to be used by law enforcement agencies around the world.

II. The List of All Facebook Patents

In the link below you can see a number of recent patent filings by Facebook. It tells you not just where the company’s products are headed, but more importantly, what the people working there are thinking about.

It’s the single greatest signal into what the company’s future prospects will look like. Tech is often a race to be first but sometimes not always a race to be best.

Here’s a list of Facebook patents, with the most recent highlighted first. It looks like this:

III. Patents of Particular Interest

You can quickly scroll through that list and go back to 2009 to view all 7 years of patent history.

There is a recent one that is of particular interest, which Facebook hasn’t talked about much.

It describes how a Facebook (or any social networking user) could control a robot through the social network and then have a status update stream automatically sent to friends. I read this initially as drones, based on the work they’re doing with laser Internet from the sky. But I could see this as an early play into autonomous driving for any type of vehicle with a VR visor for viewing the action, and potentially remote controlling, from afar.

Controlling Operation Of A Machine And Describing Actions Performed By The Machine Through A Social Networking System

Coupled with another patent from a few weeks back called Micro-route selection beam forming, I think we have the basis of social robots.

Imagine a world that looks like this. Your personalized robotic friend hangs out with you all day. He or she is always connected to the internet from drones flying overhead. The new cell towers aren’t stationary. They fly around the sky towarhds igh congestion areas more bandwidth in real-time.

Your robot could be a representation of all the activity going on in the world (a glorified news bot), a single interface to your entire social network (all your friends inside one humanoid robot), a personal assistant like Siri to do your chores (but that’s a bit like slavery, no?), or my personal favorite, a copy of you.

This is the part that freaks people out. They’re not ready to hear it until they’re at the end of their lives. This robot listens. It listens to everything about yourself. Your voice, how you talk, your inflections, your mood, your emotions, your thoughts and feelings. It tracks all the interactions you have with other people, with the web, with knowledge. It knows what you’re interested in, what types of entertainment you like, and how much money you have in your bank account.

It doesn’t record this information.

Instead it just streams this data through its brain, updating it’s neural architecture as new information is added, much like the current state of the art deep learning models.

After enough time, what happens is that this robot starts to become you. Almost a copy of you. To the point that it’s like a twin brother or sister. It doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, you might remember this commercial from watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 80s:

We’ve already been doing this for decades. The only difference is your new buddy is much more capable. You don’t have to pretend your buddy is real. He or she is real.

That begs the question. What happens to your buddy when you die? When the “real” you is gone, does the copy of you live on? Or do we shut it down? If we shut it down, are we killing you twice? Are there “human” rights issues involved in this?

Important questions I don’t have answers to, but I believe will present themselves in our lifetimes.

Microsoft wanted a computer in every home. Apple an iPhone in every hand. Facebook to connect every human. What company will have a robot in every home, connecting every human and humanoid?

Facebook? Or has that startup yet to start? If anyone’s working on it, please reach out to me.

— Sean

Read More

The New Products Facebook & Google Are Building With Massive Market Potential


Facebook Patents Revealed was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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from Stories by Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2bMhoaT