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Mark Zuckerberg aims to build own AI butler, a la 'Iron Man'

The Facebook CEO's next personal challenge involves teaching himself to code an artificial-intelligence assistant that can help him around the house and office.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to build an AI assistant that will help around the house and office.
James Martin/CNET

Mark Zuckerberg has ambitions of living more like Tony Stark, the alter ego of superhero Iron Man.

The Facebook CEO revealed in a Facebook post Sunday that he is planning to build his own artificial-intelligence assistant that can help him around the house and at the office.

"You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man," he writes, referring to the robotic butler in the popular Marvel movies.

Zuckerberg said he plans to begin by boning up on existing technology teaching it such skills as understanding his voice to control functions in the house, such as lighting, temperature and music. One product that impresses him already is the Amazon Echo, an Internet-connected wireless speaker wrapped around a digital personal assistant named Alexa that he says allows him to control music while both his hands are occupied with Max, his newborn daughter.

He then plans to move on to more ambitious tasks.

"I'll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell," he writes. "I'll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max's room that I need to check on when I'm not with her. On the work side, it'll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively."

This isn't the first time the chief of the Menlo Park, California-based company has given himself a challenge designed for personal growth. In past years, Zuckerberg has challenged himself to learn Mandarin, read two books each month and meet a new person every day.

Research in AI, a term used for the ability of a machine, computer or system to exhibit humanlike intelligence, has been dominated lately by large tech companies such as Google and Facebook. The goal is to create machines that can perceive their environment and complete a wide array of every day tasks previously performed by humans.

Although many futurists envision a more human-beneficial application, some industry watchers, including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, have grown concerned with how far AI can go and its potential dangers. In August 2014, Musk expressed fears that AI could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Even famed physicist Stephen Hawking has voiced reservations about AI.