Facebook launched an initiative this week to educate users about artificial intelligence and dispel some common fears about the technology. This public relations push will consist of a series of short videos and literature detailing some of the ways AI is shaping the future of technology, including through so-called “deep learning,” language translation and Facebook’s own News Feed.
Given the recent controversy about the viral spread of fake news content on Facebook, this last point has garnered particular attention. After all, if Facebook could use AI to prevent hoaxes, scams and fake news, why hasn’t it done so already? One high-ranking Facebook official wondered the same thing himself this week.
“What’s the trade-off between filtering and censorship? Freedom of experience and decency?” Yann LeCun, Facebook’s director of artificial intelligence, told reporters during a roundtable this week. “The technology either exists or can be developed. But then the question is how does it make sense to deploy it? And this isn’t my department.”
Facebook has a vested interest in making users comfortable with AI; much of the company’s future rests with it. And while it’s troubling that the site so far hasn’t used it to prevent fake content, we might as well get used to the technology’s presence.
“AI is going to affect our lives and it’s going to affect technology and it’s very important to have some idea of how it works and what it can do,” LeCun said.