Meta Double Downs on AI, Still Believes in Metaverse

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Tech giant Meta is doubling down on AI integrations across its platforms including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, while also taking a different approach in reintroducing the metaverse.

Initially introduced in 2021 which saw Facebook rebrand to Meta to focus on the technology, the Metaverse gained traction which prompted other players to join the craze and develop their own “metaverses.” Despite the initial hype, the idea seemed to die slowly with some key players opting out including Meta whose Reality Labs incurred an operating loss of $13.7 billion in 2022. The company shifted its focus to AI following recent advancements in the field despite spending over $100 billion in research and development on the metaverse.

However, it appears the company is not giving up on immersive technology with the CEO Mark Zuckerberg introducing a revamped Metaverse during this year’s Meta Connect. Additionally, Meta is introducing new AI experiences and mixed reality gadgets such as the Quest 3 and Ray-Ban smart glasses which can capture images and record videos.

Mark Zuckerberg introduced the revamped Metaverse as an integration of the physical world and digital space. It will include familiar 2D experiences and fully immersive 3D ones.

In an interview with Lex Fridman, Zuckerberg explained the vital role AI has to play in the metaverse. The company has ditched the cartoon-like avatars and gone for more photorealistic avatars in the metaverse with the CEO saying a world where people stick to the photorealistic is possible.

Meta will be pairing its AI assistant with the Ray-Ban Meta VR glasses allowing users to interact with the digital and physical world via text and voice in real-time. For example, users can ask for information about a piece of art or even instructions on how to fix a leaky faucet.

Meta’s new AI features

In what has been an exciting and busy year in AI, Meta is introducing new AI experiences and features to its platforms. This will range from text-to-image generation model, chatbots based on celebrities’ personalities, AI-generated stickers, Instagram image editing tools, and finally Meta’s AI conversational chatbot. The new features are powered by Meta’s large language model Llama 2.

Meta is releasing its latest AI assistant called Meta AI which has access to real-time information from the web through Bing search. The assistant will be available on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram with a planned future rollout for the Quest 3 VR headset and Ray Ban Meta smart glasses. In addition, Meta’s latest text-to-image generation called Emu is integrated into the assistant which will allow users to generate images in the chat.

Meta’s new 28 AIs based on celebrities. Source: Meta

Along with Meta AI, the company is introducing 28 new AIs based on various cultural icons and influencers. Meta says, “You can think of these AIs as a new cast of characters – all with unique backstories.” The new AIs will each have an interactive Instagram and Facebook profiles. They are currently available in text with Meta saying adding voice capability will be available next year.

Set to roll out this month to English users, new AI stickers will allow users to generate customized stickers for chats and stories in WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook Stories. This feature will use Emu for image generation.

Meta is introducing the AI Studio platform that will allow creators and businesses to create their AIs in Messenger and WhatsApp. Creators’ AIs will be able to extend their virtual presence across Meta’s apps. The company is also introducing a sandbox that will also be included in the metaverse to enable anyone to experiment with AIs.