Facebook continues to innovate and come out with new ideas and creations. Their latest is something that will probably make at least some people a little bit uncomfortable. This is because what they created now are robots who have nearly mastered the art of small talk. They can carry on conversations about topics ranging from the weather to their favorite alcoholic beverage. The only thing that they lack at the moment is a more human sounding voice, but Facebook is hard at work on that as well.
The device was made when Facebook took more than 160,000 sentences from conversations that were carried on between its employees. Those sentences were then fed into the machine in order to help it “learn” how to carry on small talk. The programmers also gave their machines a little bit of a personal bio about themselves to help ease some of the conversations along. This has helped the machines to learn what they need to say in different situations. The flow of conversation is continuing to improve.
Two of the chat bots were actually able to carry along a conversation with one another. Their conversation was not made up of the most enlightened material in the world, but they were able to keep it going back and forth. It is a big step in this area of robotics. Adding human voices to it is the obvious next step for Facebook to take along this journey.
There has been controversy in this kind of work before when previous created chatbots (also made by Facebook) seemed to steer away from the English language and perhaps into their own sort of language. They were said to have “gone rogue”, and a lot of people were afraid of what this meant for the project as a whole. It was shut down at that point.
Facebook is still working to make the conversations that these robots have as natural as possible. They say that when the robots are able to have as natural of a conversation as possible that they will be released out to the public. We are simply not at this point just yet in the journey. Facebook does hope one day to have enough of a steady flow of conversation from the robots that real people could have a talk with them and actually get something out of it. We will all eagerly await their latest developments.