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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook is announcing a new machine learning project that aims to teach AI how to understand and interact with the world through a first-person perspective.

Why it matters: Most computer vision is trained on images and videos taken from a third-person perspective, but to build AI assistants and robots that can work with us in the real world, researchers will need to compile data sets built on what is known as egocentric perception.

What's happening: Facebook AI's Ego4D project involves a consortium of researchers from 13 universities and labs in nine countries who used academic gifts from the company to collect more than 2,200 hours of first-person video recorded in the real world with head-mounted cameras and other wearables.

  • That data was supplemented by an additional 400 hours of first-person video captured by Facebook Reality Labs Research using test subjects wearing augmented reality (AR) smart glasses in staged environments.
  • The resulting data is more than 20 times larger than any other existing egocentric dataset in terms of hours of footage, and will be made publicly available in November to researchers who agree to Ego4D's data use agreement.

What they're saying: "Down the line this will allow AI systems to help you in ways that are really in the moment, contextual with what you're doing and what you've seen before, all in ways you just can't do now," says Kristen Grauman, a research scientist at Facebook AI.

Between the lines: As part of Ego4D, Facebook AI is establishing five benchmarks that researchers will be able to use to build and test egocentric AI models that use the project's data set.

  • These involve episodic memory (the ability to know what happened in the real world and when), forecasting, hand-object interaction, audio-visual diarization, and social interaction.
  • Put it all together, and you could eventually build AI assistants — perhaps tied to smart glasses like the kind Facebook and Ray-Ban recently put out — that could observe your actions and offer reminders or assistance tied to real world tasks.
  • "Maybe you're cooking a dish, and [the AI] can anticipate that you're going to end up needing key ingredients, and remember where they physically are," says Grauman.

The bottom line: It's not hard to see how building first-person, egocentric AI models will dovetail with Facebook's move into the AR and VR spaces.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated Dec 4, 2021 - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

Driving the news: The Biden administration has faced rising inflation rates over recent months, which it has labeled as "transitory."

Hope King, author of Closer
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Investors reset their compass

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The endpoints of a stimulus-fueled market are being defined.

Why it matters: Conditions that drove excess pricing in riskier assets are steadily being removed, and big swings in the market like those seen today are inevitable as investors try to adjust to the new landscape.