Meta Connect 2023: Eight takeaways from AI event in Menlo Park

Tech giant's founder Mark Zuckerberg said new AI experiences come with new set of challenges

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg emphasises the responsible use of AI, at the Connect event in Menlo Park, California. Reuters
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Facebook parent company Meta launched a host of generative artificial intelligence features during its Connect conference at its Menlo Park campus in California on Wednesday.

Generative AI is disrupting industries across the board. A type of AI system that can generate text, images or other media, it uses neural networks to identify patterns and structures in existing data to generate new and original content.

It could add as much as $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy and will transform productivity across sectors with continued investment in the technology, a recent report by consultancy McKinsey found.

The National looks at Meta’s eight key initiatives in the AI realm announced on Wednesday.

AI stickers

Meta has introduced a new feature in its chat and story platforms – AI stickers. This functionality enables users to craft personalised stickers effortlessly.

Using the power of Meta's Llama 2 technology and the foundational image generation model, Emu, this AI tool can swiftly transform text prompts into a diverse array of stickers.

Over the next month, this innovative feature will be introduced to select English-speaking users across WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and Facebook Stories, the company said.

Revolutionising image editing with AI

In the coming weeks, Meta users will witness a transformative shift in image editing capabilities. Meta is set to introduce two novel features, Restyle and Backdrop, on Instagram.

These features harness the prowess of Emu technology. With the Restyle feature, users gain the ability to apply various visual styles to their images, breathing new life into their photographs.

Meet Meta AI: your personal assistant

Meta AI is an innovative addition to the Meta ecosystem, designed to interact with users in real-time in a human-like manner.

Already available on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, it is soon to make its debut on Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and Quest 3 headsets.

This AI assistant is driven by a custom model incorporating elements from Llama 2 and Meta's latest advancements in large language models.

In text-based chats, Meta AI has access to real-time information through its partnership with Bing, offering a handy tool for generating images. Meta AI is still in beta phase and is limited to the US market only.

Join the conversation with 28 more AIs

In addition to Meta AI, users can engage with 28 other AI entities on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.

Meta has collaborated with cultural figures and influencers to bring these AIs to life, each having their own profiles on Instagram and Facebook for users to explore.

Introducing AI Studio

Meta has launched AI Studio, a versatile platform that empowers the creation of AI entities.

The company plans to make this platform accessible to people outside of Meta, catering to coders and non-coders.

Developers will soon have the opportunity to craft third-party AIs for Meta's messaging services, starting with Messenger and later expanding to WhatsApp.

Enhancing businesses and creators

Businesses, small and large, will be able to create AIs that align with their brand values and enhance customer service experiences.

Meta is launching this feature in alpha (one of the testing phases) and plans to scale it further in the coming year.

Creators will also have the chance to develop AIs that extend their virtual presence across Meta's apps, provided they are approved and directly controlled by the creators themselves.

Glimpse of the future

Meta is also working on a sandbox, set to be released in the coming year, which will allow anyone to experiment with creating their own AI.

As the universe of AIs continues to expand and evolve, Meta is dedicated to bringing this sandbox to the metaverse, enabling users to build AIs with an even greater level of realism and interconnectedness.

Privacy matters

Meta said it has included important privacy protection in its new generative AI features to guard people’s information and help them to understand how the features work.

“Our generative AI features go through a rigorous internal privacy review that helps ensure we are using people’s data responsibly, while building better experiences for connection and expression.”

The company is launching a generative AI privacy guide and other transparency resources for people to understand how Meta builds its AI models, and what controls and data privacy rights they have.

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's founder and chief executive, said new AI experiences come with a new set of challenges.

That is why Meta is introducing its new AIs slowly and building protection around them, he said.

Updated: September 28, 2023, 9:05 AM