Zuckerberg suggests major role for AI in Facebook's future

The Facebook CEO has published a lengthy letter on the social network's direction amid continued speculation over his own political goals

Zuckerberg suggests major role for AI in Facebook's future

Mark Zuckerberg. Image: Ben Margot / AP

Mark Zuckerberg has said that Facebook is developing artificial intelligence to tackle issues with the social network.

In a lengthy open letter, Mr Zuckerberg has outlined his plans for the future of Facebook - and acknowledged a number of concerns and problems they are hoping to address.

However, the letter also expands on Zuckerberg's ideological beliefs, and has a heavy focus on "bringing people together and connecting the world".

He discusses the development of what he calls 'social infrastructure', and lays out some of his company's plans in areas such as online safety, civic engagement and the transmission of information.

Zuckerberg acknowledges the 'fake news' and 'filter bubbles' that exist on Facebook, although argues he also worries "there are even more powerful effects we must mitigate around sensationalism and polarisation leading to a loss of common understanding".

He explains: "Our approach will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute an item's accuracy."

On the subject of artificial intelligence, the Facebook CEO writes: "There have been terribly tragic events - like suicides, some live streamed - that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner."

He also highlights the prevalence of bullying and harassment on the social network.

"Artificial intelligence can help provide a better approach," he argues. "We are researching systems that can look at photos and videos to flag content our team should review. This is still very early in development, but we have started to have it look at some content, and it already generates about one-third of all reports to the team that reviews content for our community."

He acknowledges it will 'take many years' to full develop such systems, and says they are currently focusing on ways to use AI "to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda".

"It's worth noting that major advances in AI are required to understand text, photos and videos to judge whether they contain hate speech, graphic violence, sexually explicit content, and more," he adds. "At our current pace of research, we hope to begin handling some of these cases in 2017, but others will not be possible for many years."

Zuckerberg's letter comes amid continued speculation about his future political plans, including a possible US presidential bid - although he himself has previously shot down such suggestions.

Earlier this year, he announced a plan to have visited every US state by the end of 2017.

Latest figures from Facebook show the social network have just under 2 billion monthly active users.