When it comes to exploring the capabilities of virtual and augmented reality technology and interaction, it seems like Facebook is putting more into both the hardware and software than most anyone out there right now through its efforts with Oculus and other AR/VR development. However, some of that advancement seems a bit more questionable than others. Such might be the case with Facebook’s recent announcement of research into AI systems for AR and VR devices, which include being able to record, remember, and recall various aspects of your daily activities.
Facebook announced this new angle of research in a recent blog on its website on October 14, 2021. According to Facebook, it is researching AI systems that will be able to engage in various tracking and assistance with everyday activity. The blog sites several aspects of activity that this AI research is going into. They include the following:
- Episodic memory: What happened when?
- Forecasting: What am I likely to do next?
- Hand and object manipulation: What am I doing?
- Audio-visual diarization: Who said what when?
- Social interaction: Who is interacting with whom?
This bevy of systems is reportedly being developed for Facebook’s AR/VR systems, such as its previously teased Facebook AR smartglasses. Facebook has also teased in the past that it is considering the possibilities of facial recognition technology in its AR/VR designs.
While there are no doubt a number of applications to which this technology could provide ample aid to everyday life, Facebook is also under regular fire for the way in which it handles personal and sensitive information. It is currently going through the wringer for the many complaints filed by formerly anonymous whistleblower Frances Haugen, and its questionable approach to when and how it handles misinformation and toxic online material has been under scrutiny for some time. When asked if there would be safeguards to keep customers utilizing these AI systems protected, Facebook told The Verge that safeguards could be developed “further down the line.”
Facebook and its partners are no doubt doing important work in the advancement of VR and AR technology. The real concern is how that research is being used, implemented, and moderated. It will remain to be seen if it’s simply another convenience in Facebook AR/VR technology, or another issue to add to the growing pile in relation to the company’s safety and oversight history.