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Facebook wants to bring AI to your phone with camera apps

The social media giant says it's training computers to understand the world around us at a fundamental level -- using your phone's camera.

Your phone's camera will be the eyes of Facebook's servers, which are learning to understand images.
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Facebook is bringing some cool tricks to its camera apps using machine learning technology.

The social media giant is building features into the camera apps on Instagram, Facebook and Messenger that could let you shoot 3D pictures with a single lens and apply different artistic styles to videos, the company said Wednesday at F8, its annual developer conference.

Powering those features will be Facebook's Caffe2 software, which helps computers analyze and learn from images. That means Facebook is teaching its servers to learn from your photos and videos, training its computers by looking out through your camera.

"We're building the world's largest AI-powered camera," Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, director of applied machine learning at Facebook, said during a keynote presentation at F8.

Facebook has made its video tools available internally to all its developers, so they'll be building new tools for users going forward.

Already available is the real-time style transfer feature for video and pictures, as well as particle effects, masks and sticker pinning in Instagram, all of which rely on machine learning.

The company said Tuesday that it's making Caffe2 an open-source project. Facebook is also partnering with companies like Qualcomm, which make the hardware in your phones, to build up your phone's ability to run machine learning algorithms on its own.

So everything from Facebook's servers to the chip on your phone will be trying to get a lot smarter at looking out at the world through your camera and understanding what it sees.

"With Caffe2, we're doing this together," Quiñonero Candela said.

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