Facebook Explores Artifical Intelligence

After a long day of class you finally get the chance to unwind and scroll through your favorite social and networks and see what your friends have been posting all day. Your good friend from high school got a latte from Starbucks before class, your coworker had the day off and spent the day with her dog, and your sister got a great photo of the sunset on a way home from work. But what if you couldn’t see any of those posts?

No, I’m not suggesting that any of the above people blocked you because you pissed them off with your endless political rants, what if you physically could not see? For a long time many websites, especially social media sites, have had trouble finding a way to find catering to blind people. That is not shocking in itself because it was always extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a way for someone who can’t see to interact with a social media platform that relies on sight.

As the years go on, technological advances continue to be made and one of them is artificial intelligence, something defined as intelligence exhibited by machines or software. This week Facebook has debuted a new artificial intelligence system that can describe photos in stunning detail.  This new software makes the website more accessible to people who are either blind or visually impaired.

Using Facebook’s object recognition technology, automatic alternative text generates information about a photo. Visually impaired people using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a photo described to them with more context. An example of details it might provide would be, “Image may contain four people, crying, inside, funeral.”


This provides an extreme update from what the software was like before when it would just provide the name of the person who shared the post and say, “Photo.” Facebook says that the software will continue to be modified but this is certainly a step in the right direction as it will allow more people to use and enjoy the platform that is so instrumental in so many lives.

Article published on April 5th, 2016 and retrieved from ABC News.





One thought on “Facebook Explores Artifical Intelligence

  1. Seems like very interesting stuff, but I can’t help but wonder how much interaction a blind person could really have with a photo. While I myself am not blind, I know someone personally who is, and he says hearing something like that as a photo description just doesn’t really do much. Especially when you consider how much the composition of the photo matters to those with sight, I wonder how interactive it eventually could be. Especially with things like Snapchat becoming so huge, hearing the “transcription” of a photo just doesn’t seem to do justice for me. My main question is how far do they conceivably plan/want/hope to take this? Is social media something that has that much of a underrepresented class of blind people? I’d like to see those numbers before I applaud this effort and achievement.


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