Dad's building a robot - Zuckerberg's latest idea

Toy robot Image copyright iStock

It is now a long time ago, but I've been trying to remember my two periods of paternity leave.

I dimly recall clumsily changing nappies, making endless cups of tea for visitors, and a mixture of immense joy and total weariness. What I'm sure I did not do is come up with a plan for a personal robot assistant.

But then I'm not Mark Zuckerberg. Having spent some weeks at home with his new baby daughter, Facebook's founder has come up with an idea.

He has just told the world that his personal mission 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".

Apparently this "simple" AI will do everything from controlling the heat and lighting in his home via voice commands to acting as a kind of supercharged baby monitor for his daughter Maxima.

Oh, and it will also help him at work to build more services and "lead more effectively", presumably turning Zuckerberg into Tony Stark, though maybe without the Iron Man suit.

So is all of this the result of too little sleep? Absolutely not - it may sound fanciful but Mark Zuckerberg is always deadly serious in his public pronouncements.

He is telling the world that Facebook's investment in artificial intelligence - already pretty substantial - is not some side project but of core importance to the company's mission.

He has looked at what Apple is doing with Siri, Google with Google Now, and Microsoft with Cortana and has decided that these still-crude personal digital assistants could actually be the next big thing in technology.

Maybe he has also played with the Amazon Echo, an intelligent speaker that learns your voice and responds to all sorts of queries and commands.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Not content to just change nappies...

I'm currently in Las Vegas preparing for the CES show and have borrowed an Echo from Amazon - it only really works in the United States.

So far, it has been pretty good at understanding my English accent, giving me news and weather reports when I ask for them and playing Pulp when I request a bit of Jarvis Cocker.

But it does not understand my need for the cricket score, and when asked for Amazon's current share price, Alexa - the voice of Echo - tells me she does not have that information.

So there is plenty of scope for Mark Zuckerberg - and the world class engineers in his team - to develop a much more useful personal assistant.

What's the betting that in a few years we will all be able to talk to Facebook and get it to arrange our lives and watch over our homes?

One other thing about the new father's plan. By announcing it just days before CES, a show which Facebook does not attend, he has reminded the technology world that whatever is unveiled in Las Vegas his company won't be left behind.

All in all, quite an effective status update. Now he can get back to changing nappies...