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Shockingly, Mark Zuckerberg dresses the same in the metaverse as he does IRL.
It’s been a tough week for Meta, formerly known as Facebook. This comes on top of a rough year for the company, which saw its stock price lose more than half its value by November 2022. The stock is climbing back up as the company has embarked on a leaner strategy involving multiple rounds of significant layoffs and various cost-cutting measures. Zuckberg’s even got a name for this new strategy: the Year of Efficiency.
As part of this new strategy, Zuckerberg seems to be pivoting slightly away from investing in the metaverse. In a statement to employees and the public, the CEO says investing in AI is now its top priority. His statement is unequivocal about the company’s priorities.
“Our single largest investment is in advancing AI and building it into every one of our products,” he said in the blog post.
Meta is no stranger to AI, as it already powers the recommendation engines in its current products. Over a year ago, the company announced it was building a supercomputer that would eventually run 16,000 Nvidia A100 data center GPUs. Zuckerberg making AI the company’s number one investment seems to be a pivot from the metaverse. To be fair to Mr. Zuckerberg, he also said, “Our leading work building the metaverse and shaping the next generation of computing platforms also remains central to defining the future of social connection.”
Meta’s AI Research SuperCluster will eventually connect over 16,000 Nvidia GPUs.
Meta seems to be shifting focus from standard AI used to recommend things to generative AI. These are large language model (LLM) systems that can interpret prompts and deliver conversational results like a human might. That’s what’s behind ChatGPT and similar systems that have become the belle of the tech ball. The other shift is that it wants to integrate these AI systems into customer-facing products instead of just running in the background, as noted by Gizmodo.
In a curious case of timing, Meta released its large language model AI called LLaMA (Large Language Model Meta AI). Unlike ChatGPT and the version used in Bing, it’s not for regular consumers. Instead, it’s for AI researchers.
“LLMs have shown a lot of promise in generating text, having conversations, summarizing written material, and more complicated tasks like solving math theorems or predicting protein structures,” said Zuckerberg in a separate brief announcement. The company also previously released a chatbot called BlenderBot 3 that it said could experience “hallucinations.”
If Meta does end up pivoting away from the metaverse and into AI, nobody would blame it for doing so. The company has been pouring billions of dollars into virtual reality research with little to show for it. The Reality Labs division burned through $10 billion in 2021 alone. The Meta Quest is the most popular VR headset, but its tentpole title — Horizon Worlds — doesn’t seem very popular. The game is so un-fun the company had to force its developers to spend time in the virtual world.
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