Virtual Reality is ultimate empathy machine: Facebook Executive

Virtual Reality is ultimate empathy machine: Facebook Executive

MUMBAI: Emerging technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) have changed the way consumers want to interact with each other and it is the “ultimate empathy machine” because it connects people who have never met, a Facebook executive said on Saturday.

Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2018, Ash Jhaveri, Vice President of Business Development at Facebook recounted how he felt lonely when he moved to the US and how technology has connected him with his cousins and family in India.

“At Facebook, we are connecting people, connecting the world. My parents would wait for the airmail envelope to hear about their relatives here. But we missed the small mundane things that actually keep people together. Today, however, everyone is connected,” he said.

Jhaveri said that with VR, Facebook could also trace Syrian refugees or expose what happens to prisoners in the California Penal System.

The executive spoke about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in changing the ways companies now function.

“AI is about how well computers can learn when fed with repeated inputs from the outside world. The greater the data you feed it with, the smarter it gets,” Jhaveri added.

The AI has a socially-beneficial angle too.

Recounting how AI helped Facebook during the Puerto Rico hurricane, he said, “A woman from Chicago put up a Facebook post asking what people needed. Instantly, people from different parts started telling her what they wanted. Before she could land, she knew what had to be sent where. The maps were being updated real time.”

Speaking on Facebook’s India-specific innovations, he said that the teams were working on 2G network to be able to develop features that work seamlessly on a low-speed network.

He said that since only 55 per cent of women users in India put up profile pictures for fear of those being misused, last year Facebook devised a photo protection feature by which the photograph cannot be downloaded or defaced.

A few days after it was reported that Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa was randomly laughing, the e-commerce giant has rolled out a new feature. The feature doesn’t fix that bug but makes Alexa’s life simpler. The new feature adds the ability to listen to back-to-back commands on the Echo speaker.

For this, one needs to switch on Alexa’s ‘follow up mode’ and give multiple commands. What this means that one doesn’t have to wake up the speaker by saying “Hey, Alexa. To ensure that the speaker is listening one just has to check whether the blue indicator is on.

However, if you’re listening to music or playing audiobooks, the speaker will not wait for a follow up. As is the case with smart speakers, one has to be clearly audible for Alexa to respond. Another way to ensure that Alexa doesn’t think follow-up commands are being issued is to say “stop”, “thank you” or “go to sleep” to end the conversation.
Earlier this week, Amazon’s Alexa had randomly started to get into laughing fits. Several users took to Twitter and reported how spooked they were with the “creepy laughter.” The latest glitch came days after several users in the US had reported that Alexa had lost its voice on Amazon smart speakers. Amazon later told media in a statement that the outbursts are due to its smart speakers hearing accidental orders. “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’
While the laughter glitch is still being worked on, the new follow-up feature is a welcome addition to the Echo. Alexa, just got smarter.