Facebook Hopes to Save Lives With New A.I.

November 28, 2017
Updated 2mo ago

Gene Munster, Managing Partner at Loup Ventures, joins Cheddar to talk about Facebook's new A.I. feature, which detects suicidal posts. Munster gives the company huge props for using this technology to help its users. And he believes that this type of technology will be integrated into voice assistants around your home.

“It’s pretty clear that people are having conversations about taking their own lives with their digital assistants,” he said.

It's been reported that Amazon Alexas, Google Homes, etc. have picked up people talking about suicide. Munster hopes the technology can start to help those users as well.

Facebook tested the technology with over 100 cases in the last month. It found that its recognition system identified and helped prioritize posts that seemed concerning, which expedited communication with local authorities twice as fast.

The company says that it will continue to improve its suicide detection and prevention methods. The prevalence of suicide streaming and crime-related videos has become a critical issue for Facebook Live. Just in October, a Turkish father, upset that his newly-engaged daughter didn’t ask for his permission, broadcast his own death.

“With the help of our partners and people’s friends and family on Facebook, we hope we can continue to support those in need,” a Facebook blog post said.

But rolling out programs like Facebook’s globally doesn't come without challenges. The UK won’t allow the feature because regulators say it goes beyond the bounds of what a social media platform should do.

Sticking with the A.I. theme, but switching companies: at Amazon Web Services’ re:invent conference this week, that tech giant’s cloud unit announced a new feature called Sumerian. It's a platform for developers to build and host VR, AR, and 3D apps.

Munster explains the difference between mixed reality and augmented reality. He believes Amazon’s A.I. technology will impact the entire shopping experience as we know it. Right now, it has a top-down approach, and when Amazon adds in mixed-reality it will be an entirely new ballgame.

“Mixed-reality allows you to actually interact with these virtual objects, where augmented reality you can just see them,” he told Cheddar. “Imagine grabbing a virtual shoe and being able to pivot it and look at it from different angles before you’re able to purchase it on Amazon.”

Amazon has already launched some augmented reality features. Earlier this month the company added AR view to its app, a feature that allows users to preview furniture in their home through augmented reality before making a purchase. Other AR features may still be on tap at the AWS event this week. Amazon says it will notify users of any new launches through their Alexa-enabled devices.

Munster says that the growth of Amazon's cloud business is an important area of growth for the company. In the last quarter, AWS revenues grew 42 percent and the unit now comprises 9 percent of the company’s total sales.

“This is growing fast. It’s an important area of investment,” he said.