Facebook Lays Out Its Plans For A Connected World

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Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and drones all form part of future view

Facebook has laid out its vision for moving beyond social networks into developing a hyper-connected world.

The second day of the company’s F8 annual developer conference in San Francisco began with Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, delivering a keynote on the next generation of technology that it is building to connect the world.

This includes virtual reality headset Oculus, but also research into artificial intelligence and the company’s Connectivity Lab.


“We have a chance to connect everyone in the world”, the company said. “Facebook can build systems that are more human, more personalised, and more intelligent than anything that has come before. The technologies that were discussed today will help build tools and services that better serve people and move the world forward.”

Going forward Oculus, bought by Facebook for around $2 billion (£1.34bn) last year, will become part of making the site a more personalised experience for its users. Events such as birthdays or weddings could be streaming live over the site to users with a compatible headset, meaning friends or family members in other parts of the world able to feel like they were really there.

Schroepfer (pictured above) said it the Oculus headset would be released “before long,” but did not provide an exact time frame.

“After thousands of demos we know we are just on the cusp, just getting there to get that sense of presence where for a moment your conscious brain is overruled by the subconscious that says, ‘You are not where you think you are,'” he said.

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Schroepfer also revealed Facebook’s ongoing work with Artificial Intelligence and machine learning as the site looks to deal with the huge amount of data it collects every day.

This includes one of the company’s AI group’s more recent advances, a technology called Memory Networks, which enables a machine to perform relatively sophisticated question answering – shown on stage by a machine answering questions about a Lord of the Rings synopsis.

“If we achieve our first goal, get everyone on the Internet, build services at scale for the entire planet, we create this new problem: so much information you can’t consume the stuff that’s important to you,” Schroepfer said.

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Lastly, Schropfer revealed more details around Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, which looks to provide internet access to remote areas, by revealing that it has successfully conducted the first test flight of its solar-powered UAV drone.

Since its purchase of drone specialists Titan Aerospace last March, Facebook has been looking to expand its Internet.org program, which looks to provide low-cost and reliable internet connectivity, across the world. The new drones are able to fly at up to 90,000 feet to beam networks to the ground below.

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