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Meta, in its biggest AI push, puts smart assistants in its apps| GuyWhoKnowsThings

In a call In a meeting with investors last spring, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, said he believed he had an opportunity to introduce AI assistants “to billions of people in ways that would be useful and meaningful.”

A year later, he is making good on his statement.

On Thursday, Meta will begin rolling out new versions of its AI-powered smart assistant software into its apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook. The latest technology will be rolled out in more than a dozen countries, including Australia, Canada, Singapore and the United States.

AI software will become virtually ubiquitous: within the news feed, in search bars, and in chats with friends. People will be able to ask the assistant, Meta AI, for help to complete tasks and get information, such as what concerts might be happening in San Francisco on a Saturday night or the best vegan enchilada options in New York.

Meta AI is powered by LLaMA 3, the company's newest and most powerful big language model, an artificial intelligence technology that can generate prose, hold conversations, and create images.

“With LLaMA 3, Meta AI will now be the most intelligent assistant available for free,” Zuckerberg said in an interview. “And because we've reached the level of quality we want, we're now going to make it much more prominent and easier to use across all of our apps.”

The effort is Meta's largest product launch that includes powerful artificial intelligence technology. The social media giant began incorporating generative AI into its apps last year on a limited basis, introducing a Series of AI-powered chatbots and characters. that could hold conversations with users in September. But this new initiative exceeds that in scope and goal, placing AI products in the most visible and most used parts of Meta's applications.

Other tech giants are also incorporating AI into their products, as Silicon Valley startups raise billions of dollars to create AI-based apps and services that they believe will define the next phase of computing.

Last year, Microsoft added OpenAI's ChatGPT to the software giant's Bing search engine. Google has integrated AI into products like Docs, Gmail, and Google Search. Startups like Perplexity and Anthropic also aim to bring more AI-powered products and services to consumers.

Meta's efforts are highlighted by the magnitude of its products, which are used by nearly four billion people around the world each month. They are also one of the few companies that “open source” most of the AI ​​technology they are developing, meaning anyone can analyze the underlying technology and use it to create products or services for free.

Zuckerberg said the new AI implementation was part of Meta's historic “playbook” of adding a feature to its apps “when we felt it was ready.” He pointed to products like Stories and Reels, two video and image products that appeared on Instagram, and how they were later merged into Facebook and WhatsApp.

When ChatGPT arrived at the end of 2022Surprising people with the way it answered questions, wrote term papers, and generated computer code, the tech industry rushed to build similar technology, even as the tools sometimes made mistakes and generated falsehoods.

Due to such flaws, OpenAI and other leading AI companies said they would not open source the underlying technology that powered these chatbots. (The New York Times has defendant OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement of news content related to AI systems).

Meta took a different tack. I opened the first version of LLaMA in February 2023, before releasing a more powerful version less than six months later. Other companies have followed, including Google and a prominent French startup, Mistral. By opening up the source of the technology, independent researchers and engineers around the world can help detect problems in the technology and improve it, the companies have said.

“We have always believed in this principle and are happy to see the industry embracing the power of open source and the positive possibilities it can create,” Ahmad Al-Dahle, vice president of generative AI at Meta, said in an interview.

Dahle said that LLaMA 3 had shown big improvements over Meta's previous big language models, calling it “significantly better” than what people were used to.

Meta has also adjusted the AI ​​model to be a little less conservative in the types of questions Meta AI will answer, meaning the assistant will be less likely to refuse to answer some questions. In the past, Meta, Microsoft and others sought to limit their chatbots from discussing third-party topics such as politics, religion and medical advice, for fear of repercussions from political or interest groups.

To attract users, Meta will also add faster image generation technology to the AI ​​assistant and then plans to incorporate the AI ​​technology into its Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses.

The challenge will be convincing people that the new assistants can be useful. Meta is working to help people learn what kinds of questions they can ask attendees to bring them to life, Dahle said.

“As prevalent as these AIs have become, there is still an educational factor about how to interact with an AI,” he said.

Like most Meta products, the new assistants are free to use and probably hard to avoid if you're a regular user of the company's apps.

Meta executives don't seem worried about AI saturation. “We're excited to share our next-generation assistant with even more people and can't wait to see how it improves people's lives,” the company said.

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