Meta to ‘turbocharge’ work on generative AI products after losing bet on metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg says Meta is pulling together a "top-level" product team to focus on generative AI integration across its platforms, including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.

Meta is joining the generative AI gold rush sparked by the viral success of ChatGPT, a conversational bot from OpenAI that took the world by storm following its initial launch in November last year.

"We're creating a new top-level product group at Meta focused on generative AI to turbocharge our work in this area," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in posts on Facebook and Instagram.

He said Meta would pull together teams working on generative AI across the company into one group to build "delightful experiences around this technology into all of our different products."

Meta is exploring "multimodal" AI experiences, including text in WhatsApp and Messenger, images in Instagram, and video, he said.

"In the short term, we'll focus on building creative and expressive tools. Over the longer term, we'll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways," Zuckerberg said.

While he was "excited" about the move, Meta had "a lot of foundational work to do before getting to the really futuristic experiences," Zuckerberg said.

Meta is taking a markedly more cautious tone regarding AI than its peers in the industry, where companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple are positioning their shift toward the tech as strategic.

Its wariness might be informed by its experience of going all-in on the metaverse – and losing almost $14 billion last year alone as a result. Meta's history with disinformation may also be a factor.

Last week, Meta said it was releasing its new large-language model, LLaMA, to public research under a non-commercial license. It said further investigation was needed to tackle "bias, toxicity, and the potential for generating misinformation" that afflict content-producing AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Other companies that announced their move toward generative AI this week include Snapchat, which said it plans to roll out an experimental AI chatbot in collaboration with OpenAI.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk is also reportedly recruiting a team of researchers to develop an alternative to ChatGPT, which he previously described as "scary good" but also an example of "training AI to be woke.”

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