Facebook is beginning to take a new approach to the task of digitizing our personalities and spinning them into nicely saleable little packages. After all, posting and updating an exhaustive list of your favorite bands tends to lose its appeal around the end of adolescence; if Facebook wants to truly understand our material wants and needs, it will have to look into our much more personal, much less intelligible communications. This week, Facebook’s chief technology officer said the company’s newly formed AI team has its sights set on building neural networks to learn about your personality in a new and remarkably human way.
A simple model for a neural network.
Artificial neural networks mirror biological ones, using nodes rather than neurons but building the same sorts of complex interconnections between them. Rather than storing all data in a huge pool to be analyzed as a whole, neural networks remember associations between concepts, streamlining the process of retrieval and analysis. They allow computer scientists to make algorithms for something called “deep learning,” which arranges ideas as layers of definitions. Small concepts collectively define larger ones, which define larger ones, and so on. With enough input information, a sufficiently detailed neural network can learn quite deeply indeed — and, with the possible exception of Google, nobody has access to more raw information than Facebook. [source]