How many times have you posted something to Facebook — an unflattering photo (or 10) or a grouchy status, possibly aided by a couple drinks — that you regretted the next day? Yes, you can always take it down immediately, praying that it didn't pop to the top of your friends' (or worse yet, your boss's) news feed, but you know that, once you put something out there, it'll stay put in some way or another.
Would it help if Facebook warned you when you're about to do something you might regret? That's what Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief of its Artificial Intelligence Research lab, thinks so. His goal is to create a "digital learning system" that can analyze photos and other Facebook posts and identify potentially embarrassing elements. Essentially, he wants Facebook to have your back.
This assistant would tap you on the shoulder, in a virtual way, and say: "Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?" LeCun explained to Wired.
The research into deep learning, a section of AI, is of course, not unique to Facebook; other major tech companies like Google have seriously invested in it as well. Nor is it a novel technology; in fact, we're already familiar with Facebook's existing AI technology. It can recognize faces in photos and suggest tags for them.
But LeChun wants to push this technology even further. His aim for Facebook's "digital assistant" is that it will analyze every action by a user within its skin — beyond just photos, to videos, status updates, and interactions — to better understand you and what you want to publicize. For example, it would notify you if someone else posts an unfavorable photo of you, and you'd be asked to authorize its publication.
"You will have a single point of contact to mediate your interaction but also to protect your private information," he said.
However, this technology may be a few years down the line, so for now, LeChun and his team have set shorter-term goals more akin to Apple's Siri, answering short questions and interpreting natural language.
Aside from not drinking at all, there may never be a reliable way to prevent yourself from drunk dialing or texting (although, come to think of it, there's an app for everything, right?), but maybe with some time, gone will be the days of drunk selfie-uploading (and the subsequent eye-rolling from your friends).
What do you think of the direction Facebook is going in?