On the initiative of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has been working on artificial intelligence technologies that will feature in simple new tools to be made available to users of the social network.
In early February 2017, Facebook demonstrated a natural language picture research engine, which, as a long article on the Facebook Code blog explains, enables users to find photographs without using specific keywords but simply by describing what appears in them.
The new tool does not uniquely rely on descriptions accompanying photos posted on the social network, but on a wide range of elements identified by its “Lumos” artificial intelligence system. The plan is to extend this technology to video sequences in the near future.
As regards the forthcoming deployment of this feature in Facebook's Web and mobile applications, it is to be restricted to the United States, and more generally to anglophone countries.
Let's not forget that Graph Search, the semantic search engine launched by Facebook in 2013, which can provide cross referenced answers to complex queries, is still not available in France, and can only be enabled if English is chosen as the default language for navigation on the social network.
It is not the first time that Facebook has presented work on image recognition.
In 2014, one of the social network's research groups developed an artificial intelligence facial recognition tool that is as skillful as human perception.
Dubbed DeepFace, the technology guaranteed an unprecedented level of accuracy in excess of 97%. However, for the moment it has yet to be deployed in a user application.
More recently, at the end of 2016, Mark Zuckerberg created a sensation when he posted several videos of himself issuing orders to a mysterious domestic assistant on his Facebook page.
Zuckerberg admits to being inspired by the J.A.R.V.IS ("Just A Rather Very Intelligent System"), artificial intelligence system developed by Tony Stark in the adventures of "Iron Man".
In principle, the Facebook CEO's assistant takes advantage of a range of existing smart speaker technologies that are increasingly in vogue in the United States (though not yet available in Europe), notably Amazon's Alexa technology, which is deployed via its Echo speaker, and Google Assistant which is integrated with its Google Home product.