Meta: Mark Zuckerberg and top execs spending most of their time on A.I.

It seems that Mark Zuckerberg has taken his eye off the metaverse for the time being and is instead focusing on the topic of the moment: artificial intelligence.

The top team at social media giant Meta sees A.I. contributing to the metaverse in time, but currently, their focus is to deploy the technology to improve their advertising offering.

That’s according to Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer, who told Nikkei Asia that the company will commercialize its generative artificial intelligence by December—joining a host of other businesses that deployed A.I. products for real-world use in a frenzied first few months of 2023.

Bosworth said that he, CEO and chairman Zuckerberg, and chief product officer Chris Cox are spending “most” of their time working on a newly formed A.I. team.

He added: “We feel very confident that we are at the very forefront. Quite a few of the techniques that are in large language model development were pioneered [by] our teams.”

The Reality Labs team leader added Meta has been investing in A.I. for “over a decade” and claims to have “one of the leading research institutes in the world.”

The technology being worked on by the team formed a few months ago can—likeChatGPT—instantly create sentences but also images.

It will be deployed to improve Meta’s advertising offering, with Bosworth—known to staff as Boz—explaining that instead of a company being pushed to use a single image for a campaign, it can ask the A.I. to “make images for my company that work for different audiences.”

That will save time and money.

The rollout to make advertising with Meta more attractive will be a linchpin for the company’s revenue model as a whole.

Advertising is the company’s main revenue stream, having brought in nearly $115 billion in 2021, $112.6 billion in 2023, and estimates of $121.9 billion in 2023—according to market researchers eMarketer.

Meta against A.I. resistance from Big Tech chiefs

The Facebook and Instagram owner refuses to be deterred by calls to halt progress on developing large language models more intelligent than ChatGPT-4.

Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak recently signed an open letter calling for a ban on further work until regulation parameters can be put in place.

Yet like Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Bosworth isn’t sold on the plan.

His response to the petition, he said, is no.

He explained: “I think it’s very important to invest in responsible development and we do that kind of investment all the time. However, it’s very hard to stop progress and make the right decisions on what changes you would make.

“Very often you have to understand how technology evolves before you can know how to protect and make it safe. And so I think, not only is it unrealistic, I don’t think it would be effective.”

Bosworth’s words echo those of Gates, who told Reuters Monday: “Clearly there’s huge benefits to these things…what we need to do is identify the tricky areas.”

Back to the metaverse

Meta has expressed it wants to tie in its A.I. work with its much-maligned vision for the virtual reality world of the metaverse.

Zuckerberg has been criticized in the past for a blind pursuit to make the digital world a success, despite the dream proving an eye-watering costly endeavor.

Apparently unaffected by the Metaverse bill creeping above $36 billion between 2019 and 2022 alone, Bosworth outlined that A.I. could help develop the landscape within the virtual reality.

“So previously if I wanted to create a 3D world, I needed to learn a lot of computer graphics and programming,” he said.

“In the future, you might be able to just describe the world you want to create and have the large language model generate that world for you. And so it makes things like content creation much more accessible to more people.”

A.I. launches from the likes of Alphabet-owned Google and Microsoft haven’t come off without a hitch, with Google’s Bard flunking questions asked by Fortune, while Microsoft’s Bing told users it “wanted to be alive.”

For Meta, it seems the staff who have avoided being laid off so far have already come up with a way to test the metaverse in a practice known as “dog-fooding,” where employees strap on a Meta VR headset and explore the platform for errors in what is known as a “meta quest.”


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