'Iron Man' wants to voice Mark Zuckerberg's virtual assistant

If you're building Iron Man's virtual assistant, who better to help than Iron Man himself?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who's been working on the virtual assistant as part of his New Year's resolution from earlier this year, posted on his social network Thursday that he was looking for someone to voice his latest creation.

Robert Downey Jr., who famously plays Iron Man in the Marvel Studios franchise, jumped at the chance to contribute. In a response to the Facebook founder, Downey Jr. said he'd "do it in a heartbeat" if the fees go to Paul Bettany, the voice of Iron Man's virtual assistant Jarvis in the hit movies.

Not forgoing a chance to further publicize the Marvel universe, Downey Jr. continued saying that Bettany would then have to donate the funds to a charity "of Cumberbatch's choosing."

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Stephen Strange, the latest Marvel superhero set to hit theaters in his own blockbuster film next month, Doctor Strange.

Zuckerberg for his part seemed thrilled at the idea, replying "This just got real." The Internet seemed equally pleased with the Downey Jr. comment generating close to 18,000 "likes" and Zuckerberg's response gaining over 6,500.

Since announcing plans to build the virtual assistant earlier this year, Zuckerberg has begun hyping its reveal in recent months. At a conference in Rome in August, he said that he was planning to fully showcase the creation this year, stating that he already had a version controlling his home. The system responds only to his voice, allowing him to control things such as his lights or his air conditioning system through simple commands.

He teased that it didn't even respond to his wife's requests. though joked that he would "give her access once I'm done."

It remains to be seen how Zuckerberg positions the product, particularly as the race for digital assistants heats up amongst tech companies. Facebook has been working on its own digital assistant for Messenger, called Facebook M, for years, though like Zuckerberg's project, it hasn't detailed much about it to the public.

Amazon famously has its Alexa smart speaker, while Google will release its own smart speaker and Google Assistant later this month.

Apple is rumored to be working on its own Siri smart speaker as well. Samsung just bought Viv, the virtual assistant company created by the founders of Siri.

Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal


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