Ashton Kutcher & Mark Zuckerberg Invest In Artificial Intelligence, So The Sequel To 'The Social Network' Might Look A Lot Like 'AI'
If you wondered what the sequel to The Social Network would look like, it's starting to feel a lot like A.I. Mark Zuckerberg has joined fellow big-time investors Elon Musk and Ashton Kutcher to fund budding artificial intelligence company Vicarious FPC. Vicarious' ultimate goal — we can hear the movie-trailer voiceover now — is to take the brain's neocortex, which helps us see, do math, move, and understand language, and replicate it in code.
So what would that mean? Well, if Vicarious is successful in their endeavor, then you'll have computers and mobile devices that can (somewhat) think like humans. This could take the form of anything from a super-responsive Siri, as a feature of a cell phone or GPS device, to a bona fide robot.
For Musk and Zuckerberg, the appeal is obvious: Zuckerberg's Facebook could use artificial intelligence in a myriad of ways, from recognizing users' faces to answering questions about your Facebook friends like a human. Musk, too, has a clear interest in the technology: He's the founder and CEO of electric-car company Tesla Motors, which could use the technology to have the high-tech vehicle respond to drivers like a human — for GPS purposes, for example.
Musk also owns PayPal and Space X, big names in the Web commerce and "space tourism" industries respectively. The possibilities for Musk are countless: Robots flying spacecrafts; talking ATM machines; intelligent banks; talking spacecrafts — you name it.
Musk is also the man behind the Hyperloop, a theoretical high-speed transport system, so imagine a robot escorting you into a pressure tube that'll carry you from LA to San Fran in half an hour. It's all very Minority Report.
As for Kutcher? When he's not acting and potentially fathering beautiful children with Mila Kunis, he has a track record as a remarkably successful investor in tech start-ups. Kutcher's funding of companies like Skype, Foursquare, Airbnb, and Path have all paid off, quite literally — so if Kutcher is investing, it's fair to say that he's cautiously optimistic about the future of Vicarious in his own right, and not just jumping onto the Musk/Zuck bandwagon.
Still, Vicarious won't be producing factory lines of mini-robots anytime soon. Zuck, Kutcher, and Musk, along with other investors that include a neuroscientist, are joining the second round of investment capital for the company, meaning Vicarious is still very much in its infancy. Recently, Silicon Valley has been beginning to take artificial intelligence a little more seriously, with Google buying AI company Deep Mind for $400 million.
Now that three of the biggest names in tech are taking Vicarious seriously, we're starting to feel a little scared about the prospect of devices that can think like humans. Where's Will Smith to save us now, huh?