Move over, Siri. It’s not OK, Google.
The voice behind Mark Zuckerberg’s homemade artificial intelligence assistant Jarvis will be none other than Morgan Freeman. Freeman’s iconic timbre was selected by popular demand.
The system that runs Zuckerberg’s household, named for Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence from Iron Man, had a synthesized voice like many other such systems. Robert Downey Jr., who plays Stark, volunteered to be the new voice of Jarvis under certain conditions.
Instead, Zuckerberg asked the public to weigh in. His Facebook post received more than 50,000 comments, with Freeman emerging victorious. (Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan also had some fun experimenting with an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice-powered Jarvis. Maybe he’ll be back.)
Zuckberg told Fast Company he called Freeman and said: “Hey, I posted this thing, and…thousands of people want you to be the voice. Will you do it?’” Freeman told Zuckerberg: “Yeah, sure.”
Of course, Freeman has other starring voice roles in the tech world. He’s one of the celebrity voices on Google’s navigation app Waze.
Facebook has not disclosed whether Freeman is getting paid, according to Fast Company.
With the Jarvis project, Zuckerberg wanted to use his voice to control everything in his house, from the music to the lights to the temperature. He also wanted Jarvis to swing open the front gate for friends by recognizing their faces. Essentially, the Jarvis project is like Zuckerberg’s homemade version of Amazon’s Alexa service or Google’s Home.
Nearly a year ago, the Facebook CEO said he planned to build an AI system as one of the personal growth challenges he gives himself each year. For Zuckerberg, this was a return to his programming roots. This isn’t the first time he has returned to coding. His personal growth challenge in 2012 was to code every day. But this challenge connected him to a new wave of computer science that is vital to his company’s growth.
“My goal was to learn about the state of artificial intelligence — where we’re further along than people realize and where we’re still a long ways off. These challenges always lead me to learn more than I expected, and this one also gave me a better sense of all the internal technology Facebook engineers get to use, as well as a thorough overview of home automation,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Monday.
by Jessica Guynn