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#Facebook Attempts to Lead #AI Race by #OpenSourcing #Server Design

Wired
When I say Big Sur, you might think I'm a bad speller, or you might think about California, or even Jack Kerouac, but probably not Facebook. The association between the two does exist, and as of Thursday, it's about to start spreading. Big Sur is the name of Facebook's AI server. It's designed to store all of the AI functionality developed at FB HQ, which at the moment largely consists of deep learning technology capable of automating text conversations, recognising nuances in photographs and other things which will streamline the Facebook experience.

Facebook are far from the only company playing around with deep learning, Apple, Google, IBM and others all have their fingers in the same pie, but here's the key difference - they're all keeping their findings to themselves. Facebook, meanwhile, have announced that they're actually going to open source Big Sur's blueprints so that third parties can develop similar software. Isn't that nice of them?

Well, yes, sort of, it certainly falls into line with Zuckerberg's vision of a better future where everyone commits to the shared advancement of our species, but there's a bit more to it than that. This is about patenting. If developers across the world are crafting AI software using Facebook's groundwork, a huge contingent of gainful AI R&D is going to have a big fat F branded across it. It begs the question - do we really want Facebook as the flagship of AI development, and more to the point, do we even really want AI development?

A lot of noise is being made at the moment about just how wise it is to continue advancing the AI cause without taking the inherent risks into account. Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and other luminaries have been very vocal about the potential dangers of creating self-aware programs which can make decisions for themselves.

The notion of a kind of AI rebellion might seem like it lives in sci-fi lodgings, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest that it's a legitimate concern. What's comforting, at the very least, is that Facebook, Google and others are only really interested in furthering AI to outfit their online platforms, rather than apply it to other real world needs like security, transport or even law enforcement.

The problem is, that restraint/self-interest might not carry over to all the people Facebook are sharing Big Sur with. The functionality might be limited, but Facebook are allowing people to access information about the hardware too, so theoretically anyone could build an equivalent to Big Sur with just about any function in mind, and the more commonplace their hard/software becomes, the cheaper it will be, opening up access further still.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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#Facebook Attempts to Lead #AI Race by #OpenSourcing #Server Design Reviewed by Callum Davies on Sunday, December 13, 2015 Rating: 5

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