Facebook is Educating AI to Speak to You Using Directions

Everyone these days are looking for creative ways that artificial intelligence can be used, and Facebook is no exception.  Recently, it was reported that the company is working on creating AI called Talk the Walk which would be capable of providing walking directions to a place without knowing the location of the user.

Recently, writer Tristan Greene from The Next Web reported on how Facebook is creating Talk the Walk artificial intelligence that would have the ability to give walking directions but will not know the user’s location.  Considering how Facebook is still dealing with violating many of their user’s privacy of information, this feature is a step in the right direction.

What is ‘Talk the Walk’?

Apparently, a team made up of Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) scientists and a researcher from the University of Montreal in Canada published recently a white paper explaining how a neural network would be capable of describing to an individual directions using plain language without using GPS or other aids that could track location. 

The researchers said that we introduce the Talk the Walk data-set, where the aim is for two agents, a “guide” and a “tourist”, to interact with each other via natural language in order to achieve a common goal: having the tourist navigate towards the correct location. The guide has access to a map and knows the target location but does not know where the tourist is; the tourist has a 360-degree view of the world but knows neither the target location on the map nor the way to it. The agents need to work together through communication in order to successfully solve the task.

How it Will Work

The neural network, hypothetically, would have to be fleshed-out fully to have the ability to provide to an individual end-to-end direction even if internet connectivity and location services was unavailable.  Within this situation, it could function by providing a conversation between the user and the AI; basically, it would mostly be the same way as if speaking to a human.

Source: itproportal.com

The individual would give a description of the landmark they are looking at, such as I am standing next to a theater, then the artificial intelligence attempts to determine where the person is.  Next, it would reply with its own set of questions, such as asking if the individual can see a shop down at the corner to assist in narrowing down which theater is being viewed.  Once the AI can determine the location of the person, it can respond with plain language on guiding the individual to where the next way-point is.

When Will it Become Available

Considering this isn’t something new that is being rolled out by the company, the answer would be maybe never.  This early research seems to be laying the ground work for development in the future as the talk the Walk white paper establishes some basic algorithms and a data-set which supports this concept can work; however, it is a long way from being available for people to use.

Source: walkbrandtalk.com

What is most significant about this work is the focus on developing artificial intelligence that can work in conjunction with humans to achieve a common goal.  Anyone wishing to learn more about neural networks can go here.