Praveen Yadav | Jul 25, 2021 | 0
Facebook AI Project
Teaching AI systems to understand what’s happening in videos as completely as a human can is one of the hardest challenges — and biggest potential breakthroughs — in the world of machine learning. Today, Facebook announced a new initiative that it hopes will give it an edge in this consequential work: training its AI on Facebook users’ public videos.
Access to training data is one of the biggest competitive advantages in AI, and by collecting this resource from millions and millions of their users, tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have been able to forge ahead in various areas. And while Facebook has already trained machine vision models on billions of images collected from Instagram, it hasn’t previously announced projects of similar ambition for video understanding.
“By learning from global streams of publicly available videos spanning nearly every country and hundreds of languages, our AI systems will not just improve accuracy but also adapt to our fast-moving world and recognize the nuances and visual cues across different cultures and regions,” said the company in a blog. The project, titled Learning from Videos, is also part of Facebook’s “broader efforts toward building machines that learn as humans do.”
The resulting machine learning models will be used to create new content recommendation systems and moderation tools, says Facebook, but could do so much more in the future. AI that can understand the content of videos could give Facebook unprecedented insight into users’ lives, allowing them to analyze their hobbies and interests, preferences in brands and clothes, and countless other personal details. Of course, Facebook already has access to such information through its current ad-targeting operation, but being able to parse video through AI would add an incredibly rich (and invasive) source of data to its stores.
Facebook is vague about its future plans for AI models trained on users’ videos. The company told The Verge such models could be put to a number of uses, from captioning videos to creating advanced search functions, but did not answer a question on whether or not they would be used to collect information for ad-targeting. Similarly, when asked if users had to consent to have their videos used to train Facebook’s AI or if they could opt-out, the company responded only by noting that its Data Policy says users’ uploaded content can be used for “product research and development.” Facebook also did not respond to questions asking exactly how much video will be collected for training its AI systems or how access to this data by the company’s researchers will be overseen.
In its blog post announcing the project, though, the social network did point to one future, speculative use: using AI to retrieve “digital memories” captured by smart glasses.
Facebook plans to release a pair of consumer smart glasses sometime this year. Details about the device are vague, but it’s likely these or future glasses will include integrated cameras to capture the wearer’s point of view. If AI systems can be trained to understand the content of the video, then it will allow users to search for past recordings, just as many photo apps allow people to search for specific locations, objects, or people. (This is information, incidentally, that has often been indexed by AI systems trained on user data.
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