Facebook CEO and wealthy nerd Mark Zuckerberg likes to stay busy. He, like many of his fellow Silicon Valley tech types, has taken on the goal of solving world hunger and improving education, taking time out to nudge civilization towards a seemingly-innocuous-but-actually-ill-conceived virtual reality. He's also really into the Chili Peppers.
In a post on Facebook this morning, Zuckerberg updated his followers on his plans to become Iron Man, something that he hopes to achieve by building an artificial intelligence platform called Jarvis. It's actually kind of interesting in a we'll-all-regret-this-when-the-robots-attack sort of way and you can read about his progress here. The gist, if you don't fancy it, is this:
So far this year, I've built a simple AI that I can talk to on my phone and computer, that can control my home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security, that learns my tastes and patterns, that can learn new words and concepts, and that can even entertain Max.
The music component of the AI involves a series of positive and negative reinforcements from Zuckerberg, allowing Jarvis to learn about his musical tastes, and eventually, consume humanity through its advanced knowledge of our needs and wants.
The range of things you can ask it is also much greater. Lights can only be turned up or down, but when you say "play X", even subtle variations can mean many different things. Consider these requests related to Adele: "play someone like you", "play someone like adele", and "play some adele". Those sound similar, but each is a completely different category of request. The first plays a specific song, the second recommends an artist, and the third creates a playlist of Adele's best songs. Through a system of positive and negative feedback, an AI can learn these differences.
Mark Zuckerberg, it seems, likes Adele. That's perfectly reasonable. But that's not what Mark Zuckerberg is asking Jarvis to play, at least not as an example of its capabilities. As New York Magazine writer Brian Feldmen first noticed, when the robots attack, they will likely do so to the funky yet melancholy tones of Anthony Kiedis.
Here, Jarvis has taken RHCP's top 10 tracks from Spotify and played them back to its owner and soon-to-be-subject, passing the work off as its own. That's not too much of a problem. But one day, if Zuckerberg has his way, Jarvis itself will understand the need for a good balance of new and old. Jarvis will understand By The Way was a remarkably strong record, that "Dosed" and "Minor Thing" have more of a right to exist on a Chili Peppers Top 10 than, say, "Dani California." And that may be the beginning of the end.
Alex Robert Ross spends a lot of time thinking about the coming apocalypse and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Follow him on Twitter.