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Facebook F8 Day Two Recap

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The second day of the F8 conference in San Jose began with a Keynote from Facebook's CTO, Mike Schroepfer. Unlike Mark's keynote from the previous day, his presentation was more technical. He systematically walked us through the efforts and strides Facebook is making to achieve its vision.

Some of the themes that featured heavily in his keynote were Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR). Several other Facebook executives expounded on the research and applications going into these initiatives in great detail.

A running thread between all this was how Facebook could imagine a future in which the world was better connected, but still somehow safer by mitigating the risks created by their own technology.
So what were some of the revolving themes?

Core AI Research & Open Source

Facebook has become a leading contributor to AI and Machine Learning frameworks by making several tools open source to help the industry improve as a whole. Mike highlighted several of these tools for advancing the world's AI. You can find them here.

Natural Language & Understanding

Facebook is making a lot of strides in this field of AI. One of the standout efforts they announced in the last twelve months has been the use of Neural network based translation as opposed to phrase based translation.
48 out of the 6,000 languages spoken on earth are now supported and this is improving connections between people who speak different languages but also helping their efforts to fight bullying and hate speech online.

Diversity, Ethics & AI

Facebook expounded on how they were ensuring that the AI they develop is free from implicit bias of the developers and curators of the training data.
Concrete examples were shown of how this is influencing creation of avatars for AR/VR environments.

Connectivity

A key part of bringing people together is improving connectivity to the Internet. Here Facebook expounded more on its efforts to bring backhaul connectivity through industry partnerships for instance what they are doing with Airtel in Uganda.
It also announced how some of the research into computer vision is powering how large scale point to point wireless networks are being designed in cities.

VR/AR

This is perhaps the most ambitious part of Facebook's vision for the future!
Oculus executives gave deep dives into how they are breaking ground with their standalone headsets. An example being increasing the field of vision as well as the progress they are making with 3D capture.
All F8 attendees got to take home a free Oculus GO.

Some of the things Facebook offers in VR:

  • Oculus TV which lets you stream Netflix or Hulu into your headset
  • Oculus Venues lets you stream live concerts, sporting events, and comedy shows.
  • Oculus Rooms which is a place to casually hang out and play a friendly board game with friends in virtual reality.

In summary, this was probably one of the most incremental F8 conferences in recent years. Inasmuch as it was overshadowed by the privacy concerns, Facebook is still determined to bring people together. All in all F8 in iteself was a great developer event.
That's it from me to you. Can't wait for next year...

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