How the other half lives: Mark Zuckerberg's life inside his bespoke smart house

Meet Jarvis: Zuckerberg's new AI assistant for his home
Meet Jarvis: Zuckerberg's new AI assistant for his home

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave users a unique look into his home on Monday, as part of an explanation of his custom-made artificially intelligent assistant.

Zuckerberg made an iPhone app this year to connect the smart devices and phones around his home. Jarvis, similar to Amazon's Alexa, builds on Facebook's internal technology for Messenger, Zuckerberg wrote in Facebook blog post.

In explaining his progress in the app, Zuckerberg somewhat jokingly revealed a few of the quirks of his lifestyle with his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Mark Zuckerberg
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For instance, Jarvis wakes Zuckerberg's daughter, Max, up to a Mandarin lesson, after Facebook's visual face detection determines the infant is awake. This same technology helps Zuckerberg recognize who's ringing his doorbell, he said.

We, too, know Zuckerberg has a pretty extensive set of Spotify playlists and someone in the family may be an Adele fan.

Zuckerberg also showed an interface to request a clean gray T-shirt — his signature look — from what he called a rigged-up " T-shirt cannon." He ginned up a special 1950's-era toaster, as well, "that will let you push the bread down while it's powered off so you can automatically start toasting when the power goes on."

The actual Jarvis has a "garden-variety synthesized female voice," according to Fast Company, which visited Zuckerberg's Palo Alto home. But in a tongue-in-cheek video ("not meant to be a live demo"), Jarvis appears to be voiced by actor Morgan Freeman. Zuckerberg is "on the verge of getting a well-known person to provide custom vocals," Fast Company reported.

Creating the assistant was one of Zuckerberg's yearly resolutions, which have also included running a mile a day, reading a new book every other week and learning Chinese.

This year's challenge was aimed to help him learn how powerful AI can be with 100 hours of work, he wrote. For instance, the experiment revealed that texting Jarvis — especially if Zuckerberg was away from his home or in the middle of a task — was often more valuable than voice commands alone. That, Zuckerberg said, falls in line with trends he's seen on Messenger and WhatsApp, where texting is growing more quickly than voice calls.

But unlike texting, interacting with voice version of Jarvis provided a quicker and more empathetic exchange, Zuckerberg said.

"It can interact with Max and I want those interactions to be entertaining for her, but part of it is that it now feels like it's present with us," Zuckerberg wrote. "I've taught it fun little games like Priscilla or I can ask it who we should tickle and it will randomly tell our family to all go tickle one of us, Max or Beast. I've also had fun adding classic lines like 'I'm sorry, Priscilla. I'm afraid I can't do that.'"

Zuckerberg said he found little bugs that showed how far AI systems are from being generalized for a wide variety of requests.

"We know how to show a computer many examples of something so it can recognize it accurately, but we still do not know how to take an idea from one domain and apply it to something completely different," Zuckerberg wrote. "To put that in perspective, I spent about 100 hours building Jarvis this year, and now I have a pretty good system that understands me and can do lots of things. But even if I spent 1,000 more hours, I probably wouldn't be able to build a system that could learn completely new skills on its own."