Robert Downey Jr. Offers Up Voice For Mark Zuckerberg’s AI Butler

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MENLO PARK, Calif. (CBSMiami) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is looking for someone to be the voice of his new virtual assistant and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars has answered the call.

Robery Downey, Jr., who plays Iron Man in the Marvel Studios blockbuster franchise, jumped at the opportunity after Zuckerberg posted the request to find a voice for his Artificial Intelligence program he named “Jarvis” — inspired by the virtual assistant to Downey’s Iron Man alter ego Tony Stark.

“It’s time to give my AI Jarvis a voice. Who should I ask to do it,” Zuckerberg asked on his Facebook account, which quickly gathered thousands of comments and shares.

A few hours later, Downey replied — but with conditions.

“I’ll do it in a heartbeat if Bettany gets paid and donates it to a cause of Cumberbatch’s choosing…that’s the right kind of STRANGE,” said Downey.

Bettany, as in Paul Bettany, is the actor who plays Jarvis in the Iron Man and Avengers movies. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Dr. Strange in the next major Marvel film coming out in November.

Zuckerberg posed the AI design challenge to himself as part of an annual exercise to “learn new things and grow outside” of his work at Facebook. Challenges in recent years have been things like reading two books a month or learning the Mandarin language.

“My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page back in January. “I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I’ll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in (daughter) Max’s room that I need to check on when I’m not with her. On the work side, it’ll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively.”

Fans had fun posting other suggestions for Zuckerberg’s AI voice, including Paul Bettany himself, James Earl Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Zuckerberg needed a little reminding from one commenter that Arnie once offered his voice for the role when the Facebook founder first revealed his idea.

“Great memory,” Zuckerberg replied.


More from James Amalino

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