Facebook's new AI project to get a lot smarter at understanding text. In fact, the social network says DeepText, its new "text understanding engine," is so good, it can interpret "several thousands posts a second" with "near-human accuracy."
Introduced Wednesday, DeepText offers an intriguing look into how Facebook is using artificial intelligence to make its platform better at parsing the billions of lines of text that pass through it each day.
This may sound a bit dystopian but the goal of DeepText is to more precisely understand the content and context of text on Facebook, in order to improve its overall user experience. And Facebook is already experimenting with this technology in a couple different ways.
How will it be used?
On Messenger, for example, it's being used for something Facebook calls "intent extraction" — figuring out the difference between messages that may sound similar but have very different meanings. Writing "I need a ride," for instance, may trigger a prompt for you to call an Uber but writing "I found a ride," shouldn't.
DeepText could also be used to proactively steer users toward Facebook tools based on the content of their updates. As Facebook's researchers explain:
For example, someone could write a post that says, “I would like to sell my old bike for $200, anyone interested?” DeepText would be able to detect that the post is about selling something, extract the meaningful information such as the object being sold and its price, and prompt the seller to use existing tools that make these transactions easier through Facebook.
It can also help with the seemingly simple task of filtering comments on crowded public posts so you're less likely to see spam.
How will it affect us?
Some of these improvements may sound like minor changes, projects like DeepText are going to be increasingly important to the company as it pushes further into Facebook's new AI. That's because the better Facebook is at understanding what you're talking about, the better it will be at curating your News Feed, or keeping your conversations within Messenger and hiding spam — all of which stand to keep more people on Facebook and Facebook products for longer.
Though still in a relatively early stage, Facebook says it's continuing to make DeepText better and find new ways of using it within Facebook, including using it to understand the contents of photos and videos.
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