New Meta Team to 'Turbocharge' AI for WhatsApp, Instagram

Meta is centralizing its artificial intelligence work to boost products and add "creative" tools, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

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Stephen Shankland
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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at a conference while wearing his trademark gray T-shirt

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Meta will "turbocharge" its use of artificial intelligence technology with a new team that plans to add AI abilities to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Monday.

AI has been around for years, and indeed Meta Chief AI Scientist Yann LeCun shared the computing industry's top prize, the Turing Award, for pioneering the neural network technology that powers today's most advanced AI work. But AI has captured new attention with ChatGPT and other "generative" AI technology that can write plausible sounding text, synthesize new imagery and perform other creative tasks.

And evidently Meta wants to take more advantage of AI in its products, centralizing AI work from around the company into one central product team, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

The first goal will be to employ generative AI for better "creative and expressive tools," Zuckerberg said. "Over the longer term, we'll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways. We're exploring experiences with text (like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like creative Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video and multi-modal experiences."

Even though Facebook has been a notable power in AI, it's also had missteps. One system, Galactica, was trained on 48 million scientific papers in an attempt to make better sense of the research. But Meta shut down Galactica after only two days in 2022 after it bungled math and produced unreliable results.

Galactica, ChatGPT and Google's competing Bard are a type of AI called a large language model, aka LLM, trained to recognize and then reproduce patterns in vast swaths of text. Such technology can produce remarkably useful results, like creating working software based on a plain-English language prompt, but they don't truly know anything and can also be untrustworthy despite their authoritative tone.

Earlier in February, Meta released a new AI chatbot called LLaMA to approved researchers. The company is trying to steer the AI industry toward constructive use of the technology and rein in problems like bias, toxicity and hallucinations, in which an AI makes up information that simply isn't true.

"We believe that the entire AI community — academic researchers, civil society, policymakers and industry — must work together to develop clear guidelines around responsible AI in general and responsible large language models in particular," Meta said.

Editors' note: CNET is using an AI engine to create some personal finance explainers that are edited and fact-checked by our editors. For more, see this post.