Meta huddle: Zuckerberg unveils AI tools and snubs Apple headset

9 Jun 2023

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2018. Image: Anthony Quintano via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Employees got a sneak peek into Meta’s generative AI plans, upcoming Twitter rival and Zuckerberg’s not-so-positive thoughts on the Apple Vision Pro.

Mark Zuckerberg has provided employees with updates on plans to infuse Meta products such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp with generative AI tools.

In a widely reported internal company meeting yesterday (8 June), the Meta CEO detailed to employees how to company is working with generative AI at various stages of development. This includes tools for direct customer use as well as some internal ones.

“I want us to use this period that’s going to be a bit more stable in order to evolve and rebuild our culture,” Zuckerberg  said, according to two people who attended the meeting and shared a recording with The New York Times.

‘Push generative AI forward’

Updates announced include an AI tool that allows Instagram users to use text prompts to modify photos for their Stories, as well as AI agents curated for specific tasks across Messenger and WhatsApp. The company will also host a hackathon next month focused on generative AI.

“In the last year, we’ve seen some really incredible breakthroughs – qualitative breakthroughs – on generative AI and that gives us the opportunity to now go take that technology, push it forward, and build it into every single one of our products,” Zuckerberg told Axios separately.

The latest updates come less than a month after Meta revealed a spate of new AI-powered features aimed at advertisers looking to improve the performance of ads on Facebook and Instagram. This followed Zuckerberg’s plan to ‘turbocharge’ generative AI into Meta platforms.

“We have a lot of foundational work to do before getting to the really futuristic experiences, but I’m excited about all of the new things we’ll build along the way,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

While Meta has been investing a lot of time and energy in AI research, since before the recent AI gold rush began, many have noticed the company has not been as quick as others, such as Microsoft and Snapchat, to deploy to the technology in its platforms.

Twitter rival and Vision Pro snub

Meta employees were also given a sneak peek into the company’s Twitter rival that is currently in the works. According to internal documents seen by The Verge, the platform currently known as Project 92 could be called Threads when it goes public.

The app will reportedly be based on Instagram and integrate with a decentralised social media protocol called ActivityPub – which is supported by the other Twitter rival, Mastodon. This means that users of Mastodon could take their accounts to the new app if they wanted.

“We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run, that they believe that they can trust and rely upon for distribution,” Meta chief of product Chris Cox said in the meeting, in what is a direct reference to Elon Musk’s leadership.

In the same meeting, Zuckerberg reportedly dissed Apple’s latest $3,499 Vision Pro headset, telling employees it “could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want”, noting that the upcoming Quest 3 headset is seven times cheaper at $499.

“I think that their announcement really showcases the difference in the values and the vision that our companies bring to this in a way that I think is really important,” he was quoted saying.

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2018. Image: Anthony Quintano via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic