Tony Stark hopeful Mark Zuckerberg has unlimited money, a history of coding, and not-so-unlimited time. But, the Facebook CEO managed to find enough of the latter to put the second to work — over the past year, he’s put 100 to 150 hours of his own time into Jarvis, a smart home AI that helps him run his home. It’s like Alexa or Google Assistant, but it’s just for Zuckerberg, and it’s voiced by Morgan Freeman. Advantage Zuck.
Jarvis won’t be the pop culture AI rival to Microsoft’s Cortana. It’s purely a passion project for Zuckerberg, not something Facebook will release as a competing project. That’s because Facebook hasn’t been working on it — while Zuckerberg cops to asking for help from employees on occasion, this has been his personal project from the start, and looks to stay that way.
If you’re familiar with smart home assistants, Jarvis isn’t much of a departure from them. He’ll open the blinds, turn the lights on and off, play music, and turn off appliances equipped with smart switches. The difference is in how Jarvis is tailored to Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla, and his daughter Max. Jarvis can play music according to the tastes of Mark or Priscilla, and can execute commands based on where either of them are in the house. If you want a deep dive into how Jarvis works, Zuckerberg put up a blog post covering the basics.
That’s how it all works in theory, anyway. Daniel Terdiman of Fast Company got the Jarvis tour at the Zuckerberg compound, and it was clear that Zuckerberg’s creation is still in beta. Commands would occasionally not be accepted, and sometimes lights would go off in the wrong places (from the sounds of it, usually wherever Priscilla happened to be).
The hiccups aren’t too surprising. If he’s really put only 100 to 150 hours into the project, it’s pretty impressive — not only was Jarvis built from the ground up, Zuckerberg is trying to make Jarvis understand natural language in more nuanced ways than Alexa or Google Assistant can. He’s also trying to teach Jarvis Mandarin, to help his daughter (and maybe even himself) with learning the language.
But, from this CNN video, Zuckerberg has one thing working perfectly — he’s put Jarvis in control of a T-shirt cannon that blasts out a fresh shirt every morning. It’s not the Iron Man suit, but it’s a start.