Facebook boss and founder Mark Zuckerberg is presently searching for someone to become the voice of his new virtual assistant “butler.” So who else would answer the call but one of Hollywood’s biggest stars playing the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man and Avengers? Robert Downey, Jr. from the Marvel Studios blockbuster franchises is jumping at the opportunity after Zuckerberg posted a request to find a voice for his artificial intelligence programmed butler that he is ironically naming “Jarvis.” The name is inspired by the virtual assistant to Downey’s Iron Man alter ego Tony Stark. So, according to Downey, “who else would be right for the voice than me?” Zuckerberg further posted on his Facebook account that “It’s time to give my AI Jarvis a voice. Who should I ask to do it?” This quickly garnered thousands of comments and shares, and a few hours later, Downey replied. But then, he set some conditions. According to Downey, “I’ll do it in a heartbeat if Bettany gets paid and donates it to a cause of Cumberbatch’s choosing…that’s the right kind of STRANGE.”
The Bettany here is, of course, Paul Bettany, the actor playing Jarvis in the Iron Man and Avengers movies. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Dr. Strange in the next major Marvel film coming out in November. In short, Downey will do the AI voice for free if Zuckerberg were to pay Paul Bettany, but Paul needs to donate the payment to Benedict Cumberbatch’s choice of philanthropic work. Zuckerberg posed the AI design challenge to himself as part of an annual exercise to “learn new things and grow outside” of his work at Facebook. Some of his personal challenges in recent years have been things like reading two books a month or learning the Mandarin language. For 2016, Zuckerberg’s new challenge is to develop a simple AI butler to run his house and help out with some of the work. He sees the AI like a Jarvis in Iron Man.
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He intends to teach and train the AI in recognizing and understanding his voice, to control things in his house like music, lights, temperature, kitchen appliances, and the like. He will also teach the AI to recognize his family and friends through facial recognition so he can answer the door and let them in when they ring the doorbell. He also intends to teach the AI if something is going on in his daughter Max’s room so Zuckerberg can go check it out. Zuckerberg also says that the AI is his way to observe and visualize on virtual reality in order to create better services and use it in the Facebook organization more effectively. Other suggestions and offers for the AI voice included Paul Bettany himself, James Earl Jones, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, Zuckerberg commented that he didn’t want his butler sounding like Darth Vader or The Terminator and may scare his daughter.