In the past few days, you might have come across stories around Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new home Artificial Intelligence (AI)Assistant,Jarvis..
Among the key things that the system can do include turn lights on and off, play music based on the personal tastes of both him and wife Priscilla Chan, automatically open their front gate for friends, make toast, and even wake up their one-year-old daughter Max with Mandarin lessons.
But who then is the voice behind Jarvis? It’s the 79 year old famous actor Morgan Freeman.
In October, Zuckerberg asked his followers for suggestions to be the voice for Jarvis, his AI tool inspired by Iron Man. Freeman was a top pick.
Zuckerberg personally called Freeman to ask him to do it. Robert Downey Jr. had also offered his services.
Like Amazon’s Alexa, Jarvis can be activated by voice (or by text) and connect with various objects in the home.
In the video, the assistant is shown adjusting thermostats, making toast for breakfast and buzzing Zuckerberg’s parents into his home by recognizing their faces.
According to fastcompany.com Jarvis was inspired by Tony Stark’s Jarvis AI, from the Iron Man movies. Stark, of course, is played by Robert Downey, Jr., and after Zuckerberg asked the public in October who should be the voice, Downey himself volunteered, saying he would “do it in a heartbeat” if actor Paul Bettany, the voice of Jarvis in the Iron Man films, got paid and the resulting money went to a charity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s choice.
But the public had other ideas. Zuck’s post inspired more than 50,000 comments, and Freeman was the overwhelming choice to replace the standard female robotic voice with which the family currently interacts.
Many of the Zuckerberg family’s interactions with Jarvis are text-based—and for that they use either a Messenger bot or custom iPhone app. But there are certain situations that call for a spoken voice—among them commanding the system to play music, or to let someone in the house. That’s why Freeman will record a limited set of commands—fragments of speech, really.
Actor Morgan Freeman, is simply recognized globally as he has appeared in dozens of films, including The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby, Deep Impact, and many others.
He’s also done extensive voice work, including announcing the CBS Evening News, narrating Hillary Clinton’s introductory video at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, he was also the ‘voice of God’ the movie, Bruce Almighty and the voice behind the navigation app Waze.
Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that he made it his 2016 New Year’s resolution to build a simple AI to run his home and help him with his work.
He struggled to find appliances whose power could be controlled remotely by an app and had to figure out the nuances of language used to request songs. In total, he spent about 100 hours building Jarvis — while running Facebook. He wrote on his Facebook Page.
“As the CEO of Facebook, I don’t get much time to write code in our internal environment. I’ve never stopped coding, but these days I mostly build personal projects like Jarvis,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
In the future, Zuckerberg hopes to build an Android app for Jarvis and connect it to more appliances and rooms in his home.
“My goal was to learn about the state of artificial intelligence,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post, “where we’re further along than people realize and where we’re still a long ways off.”