Let’s say you’re out drinking with your buddies, things get out of hand, you pull out your smartphone, you take a selfie in the middle of all this drunken revelry, then you take 30 or 40 more, and, without hesitation, you start uploading them to Facebook.
It’s a common thing to do. But Yann LeCun aims to stop such unbridled behavior—or at least warn people when they’re about to do something they might regret. He wants to build a kind of Facebook digital assistant that will, say, recognize when you’re uploading an embarrassingly candid photo of your late-night antics. In a virtual way, he explains, this assistant would tap you on the shoulder and say: “Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?”
The idea is more than just an idle suggestion. LeCun is the New York University researcher and machine-learning guru who now oversees the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab, a team of AI researchers inside the internet giant that spans offices in both California and New York, and this rapidly expanding operation is now laying the basic groundwork for his digital assistant.
Interesting idea, but this is a bit of a slippery slope. Tricky when you allow AI to make judgment calls of any kind. Will Facebook step in when it disagrees with my parenting style? My purchases? My voting habits?