Generative AI has been one of the most exciting areas in the tech industry, with companies like ChatGPT, Microsoft, and Google making significant strides in developing powerful generative AI products. However, Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, is keen to assert that it has not fallen behind its rivals. In fact, according to Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer, “the majority of the world’s population will have their first experience of generative artificial intelligence with us.” In this article, we will explore Meta’s approach to generative AI and its vision for the future.
While Meta acknowledges the presence of other innovative generative AI tools in the market, Bosworth emphasizes that Meta has been leveraging AI on its platforms long before the launch of ChatGPT. He points out that Meta’s technology allows users to effortlessly generate images or written content by simply speaking prompts like “hedgehog on a bike” or “happy birthday to a marathon runner.” Unlike some other platforms that require expert computer skills, Meta aims to create user-friendly tools that deliver fast and impressive results even on smartphones.
Meta has taken a more cautious approach compared to its competitors when it comes to generative AI. Just before the debut of ChatGPT, Meta released its own generative AI chatbot called “Galactica,” which specialized in scientific research. Although Galactica could generate articles and solve math problems, it occasionally provided fabricated answers. Meta quickly sidelined the tool, a decision that Bosworth believes was a mistake. He admits that they had warned users about the chatbot’s capability to say anything, but he would have preferred to leave it active. In contrast, Meta’s rivals kept their AI products available despite the occasional “hallucinations” that generated bizarre answers and brought them some ridicule.
Given Meta’s history of controversies surrounding content moderation on its social media platforms, the company is likely to prioritize caution when setting safety parameters for its generative AI creations. While the other tech giants aggressively released their AI products, Meta focused on improving its in-house AI model. Earlier this year, Meta made Llama 2, its AI model, open-source, allowing developers to customize it and create their own chatbots. This move reflects Meta’s commitment to providing developers with the tools to build innovative AI applications while maintaining a strong emphasis on moderation and safety.
Meta’s rebranding from Facebook to Meta in 2021 was not merely a name change; it signified Mark Zuckerberg’s belief in the metaverse as the future of computing. The metaverse, an immersive social networking platform, remains a work in progress for Meta. Bosworth acknowledges that the adoption of their platform, known as Horizon Worlds, has been slower than expected. He humorously remarks, “We should have had legs sooner,” referring to the addition of limbs to users’ virtual avatars. While Meta didn’t delve deep into the metaverse at its recent Connect conference, it showcased products like Ray-Ban smart glasses, which enable users to livestream their perspective. Furthermore, Meta introduced the concept of “mixed reality” through its VR headset, which overlays digital content onto the real world, instead of completely immersing users in a virtual environment. The new Quest 3 headsets also offer the ability to transition seamlessly between virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.
The tech world eagerly awaits the release of Apple Vision Pro, a high-end VR headset with a price tag of $3,500, expected to launch early next year. Bosworth dismisses any concerns about Apple’s offering, confidently stating, “There’s nothing about that headset that we can’t build.” While Meta acknowledges the competition, it remains committed to innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of generative AI and immersive technologies.
As the landscape of generative AI continues to evolve, Meta is determined to stay at the forefront of this technological revolution. While competitors have made significant strides, Meta’s focus on user-friendly tools, caution in releasing AI products, and commitment to safety parameters are distinguishing factors. Meta’s journey towards the metaverse is a testament to its vision for the future of computing. As the tech industry eagerly awaits the release of Apple Vision Pro and other developments, it is clear that Meta will continue to innovate and shape the future of generative AI.