Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is facing an uphill battle to convince the market that his company has what it takes to compete and win in the AI race. Meta, a company viewed as a leader in AI, has been caught off-guard after pushing its vision of the Metaverse, a virtual world likened to a 3D internet and burning through over $10bn. ChatGPT has overshadowed Meta’s Blenderbot, a powerful human-like, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that has created waves in Silicon Valley and beyond since its launch in November.
Despite rebranding as Meta and promising to build “the successor of the mobile internet” almost two years ago, there is little to show for it. The metaverse has been met with scepticism from investors and confusion from the public. Meanwhile, rivals have raced to launch their AI bots rather than piling into the metaverse. Microsoft has signed a multibillion-dollar deal with OpenAI to use its technology for its Bing search engine, and Google is building a rival called Bard.
Meta laid off 11,000 people late last year to appease impatient shareholders who have demanded cost-cutting. This week, Zuckerberg went further in what he dubbed Meta’s “Year of Efficiency,” slashing a further 10,000 roles in middle management, HR, and recruitment. In a bid to recapture the zeitgeist, Zuckerberg has been furiously mentioning the latest buzzword in the Valley, AI. He has proposed new ways to install chatbots into products such as WhatsApp and Instagram, suggesting AI could instantly generate images for digital adverts using written prompts.
Despite Zuckerberg’s push towards AI, some Meta staffers are sceptical. ChatGPT, the flashy demo that has stolen the limelight, is “not a particularly big step towards human-level intelligence,” according to Yann LeCun, Meta’s leading AI scientist. LeCun and other computer science experts contend that the technology behind ChatGPT, a so-called “large language model,” is limited.
Regardless, many observers believe Meta will be forced to enter the AI area, whether its own staff are convinced or not.