Meta CEO Zuckerberg looks to digital assistants, artificial intelligence to drive the Metaverse

  • Meta has new AI tools and celebrity-endorsed digital assistants that the company hopes will help launch the Metaverse.
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off the artificial intelligence software as well as the company’s new Quest 3 virtual reality headset and Ray-Ban’s latest smart glasses on Wednesday.
  • Powering the new AI tools is the company’s Emu computer vision model.

Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a Meta Connect event at Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California on September 27, 2023.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Meta has new AI tools and celebrity-endorsed digital assistants that CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes will eventually help spur the shift.

Zuckerberg showed off the artificial intelligence software as well as the company’s new Quest 3 virtual reality headset and its latest Ray-Ban smart glasses on Wednesday at Meta’s Connect conference for virtual reality developers at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Users of Facebook’s various chat apps like WhatsApp and Messenger will soon be able to share digital stickers that can be automatically generated via written prompts, leveraging the popularity of technology like ChatGPT.

For example, users can type “pizza plays basketball” to create a goofy-looking digital sticker of a cartoon pizza slice holding a basketball.

Zuckerberg also introduced new AI-powered editing tools coming next month to Instagram that will allow users to change their photos and images with written prompts. He showed in a demo how different prompts could edit one of his childhood photos to depict the young CEO wearing an ugly sweater in one photo and with blue hair in another. He also transformed a photo of his dog Beast to resemble something resembling a small origami paper figurine.

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Powering the new AI tools is the company’s Emu computer vision model, which Zuckerberg described as a kind of sister technology to the Llama family of language generation software. Emu can create images in about five seconds, he said.

“My kids tell me it’s still not fast enough, but five seconds gets to the point where it’s really cooking,” Zuckerberg said.

Users will eventually be able to automatically create photorealistic avatars within Meta’s chat tools, similar to how people use Midjourney AI within the messaging service Discord.

The company’s new Meta AI digital assistant is similar to ChatGPT, which generates sophisticated answers to text queries. Zuckerberg said the digital assistant can access Microsoft’s Bing search engine to help it compile responses to prompts that require real-time information.

Meta has partnered with many celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Mr. Beast and Kendall Jenner to play digital characters. Users can ask travel-related questions to a digital assistant called Lorena, played by famous actress Padma Lakshmi, who is supposed to provide travel advice. Or they can play Dungeons & Dragons with a narrator called the Dungeon Master, played by rapper Snoop Dogg.

Zuckerberg said users will eventually be able to create their own digital assistants, but the company wants to test this capability with selected companies before rolling it out more broadly.

The big plan is for people to interact with these AI-powered digital assistants in the company’s yet-to-be-built Metaverse, a digital world that’s costing Meta billions of dollars a quarter as it tries to build a next-generation computing platform.

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Although Zuckerberg is still involved in the transformation world, he talks a lot more about AI than he did at previous Connect conferences. He said the company’s investments in artificial intelligence are linked to building the foundation for the metaverse, as evidenced by Ray-Ban’s latest smart glasses developed with EssilorLuxottica. The new glasses, which will cost $299 when they are available for purchase on October 17, come built with Meta’s AI software so people can identify landmarks or translate cues when looking at different things.

“Before this last year of AI breakthroughs, I kind of thought that smart glasses would only become ubiquitous when we actually connected, you know, with holograms and displays and all those things, which we’re making progress on,” Zuckerberg said.

Now, Zuckerberg said, “I think the AI ​​part of this is going to be just as important,” because AI makes smart glasses more compelling.

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