Facebook fights hard against the idea that it’s some kind of creepy Big Brother watching over us all. However, it doesn’t help its own case when it makes announcements like this from last week: Facebook plans to use Artificial Intelligence and satellite imaging to map every building in the world.
While it sounds invasive, the idea comes from Facebook’s Internet.org humanitarian project. With more detailed maps, the company says it will be easier to help connect the world to the Internet. So far, the site’s Connectivity Lab has analyzed satellite imagery of 20 countries, covering 21.6 million square kilometers. The site was able to identify buildings using AI, and the same image-recognition technology that Facebook uses to identify your face in photos.
“It succeeded in identifying outlines of buildings and highlighted those for which it had high confidence while suppressing areas not likely to contain human-made structures,” Facebook said of its AI technique in a blog post announcing the plan.
Using census data, Facebook was even able to roughly approximate how many people live in each building.
Right now, the information is only being looked at by Facebook as a way to build Internet connectivity, but the potential uses of this data are endless. But is Facebook really the right company to be watching the world like this?