When you’re the man who brought the world Facebook, you need to periodically challenge yourself to keep your skills sharp and your mind focused. The project that Mark Zuckerberg came up with to challenge himself this year was to build his own version of Iron Man‘s AI program Jarvis using nothing but the tools that Facebook developers have access to. The project was a success, but one question remained: Who’s voice would Zuckerberg’s Jarvis use?
An answer to that question has finally been revealed. Despite some high-profile individuals expressing interest in the job, Zuckerberg settled on the soothing sounds of Morgan Freeman’s voice.
The Jarvis project was the latest personal-growth project taken on by Zuckerberg to keep his coding skills sharp now that he’s not the primary programmer at Facebook anymore. These days, new hires have to spend six weeks in a training exercise known as “Bootcamp” to learn the ins and outs of all of the tools that are available to Facebook’s software engineers. Zuckerberg himself has never been through Bootcamp, of course, since he is the site’s original coder and had passed on the reins to other software engineers before the Bootcamp program was created. This is the reason for projects like Jarvis; he wants to stay up-to-date with the tools that his engineers are using and challenge himself now that he’s not involved with the day-to-day development and maintenance of the Facebook site.
When news first broke that Zuckerberg’s Jarvis was looking for a voice, Robert Downey Jr. himself stepped up and expressed interest in the job. His only stipulations were that Paul Bettany (who voiced Jarvis and later played the Vision in the Iron Man/Avengers movies and Captain America: Civil War) get paid for the job and then donate that money to a charity of Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch’s choice. Zuckerberg responded positively at the time, though no announcement of a Tony Stark-sounding Jarvis was made. It seems that Zuckerberg went in a different direction with the voice in the end, however (per Fast Company), though few will likely argue with his choice of Freeman for the role.
Zuckerberg’s AI isn’t as advanced as Tony Stark’s version of Jarvis, but it does boast integration into his home automation system. This allows Zuckerberg and his family to ask Jarvis to play music, turn lights on or off, open the locked gate of their home and even make toast by giving commands through an iPhone app or Facebook Messenger bot. This is similar to existing consumer AI technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa and Alphabet’s Google Home, though it’s personalized for specific use in Zuckerberg’s home. As such, it’s unlikely that we’ll see an official Facebook version of Jarvis anytime soon – though it’s possible that Zuckerberg’s pet project could be a jumping-off point for future Facebook AI technology.
Some are probably a bit disappointed that Zuckerberg didn’t go with Downey Jr. or perhaps Bettany himself for the voice of Jarvis, though Zuckerberg obviously had reasons for his choice. It would be interesting to see a preview of the AI at some point to see how a house that sounds like Morgan Freeman works, but until then we’ll have to settle for just reading things in Morgan Freeman’s voice.
Source: Fast Company