In Big Tech’s AI chatbot race, Meta may be up to the task.
OpenAI started the chatbot trend with ChatGPT, Microsoft brought it to search with the Bing chatbot, and Google is following suit with Bard and Project Magi.
Meta has kept a low profile in the chatbot space, although it has released relevant research in the past, such as the Internet-enabled BlenderBot 3.
In the latest quarterly investor call, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about two “major technological waves”: the first wave is AI today, and the second wave is the Metaverse in the more distant future.
WhatsApp and Messenger could get AI chatbots
Meta already has AI in place in many areas, Zuckerberg said, such as content recommendations. 40 percent of what’s recommended on Instagram is powered by AI, Zuckerberg said. AI is also used to optimize monetizing content on the company’s own social networks.
In addition, Meta plans to develop generative foundational models that open up “entirely new classes of products and experiences.”
“I think there’s an opportunity to introduce AI agents to billions of people in ways that will be useful and meaningful,” Zuckerberg said, referring to “chat experiences in WhatsApp and Messenger” in the next sentence.
“For example, I expect that a lot of interest in AI agents for business messaging and customer support will come once we nail that experience. Over time, this will extend to our work on the metaverse too, where people will much more easily be able to create avatars, objects, worlds, and code to tie all them together,” Zuckerberg said.
Speaking of the metaverse, Zuckerberg refutes rumors that Meta has put its digital world plans on hold. Facebook, or Meta, has been focused for years on AI and the metaverse, two technologies that feed off each other anyway, he says.
Microsoft got off to a fast start, but Meta has the better starting position
With WhatsApp and Messenger, Meta already has billions of active users who are already in a chat environment. It seems obvious to offer an additional chatbot to attack, for example, Google’s search business. Snap is already doing something similar with Snapchat.
Meta may even be better positioned in the chatbot race than Microsoft with Bing, which still carries the image of Microsoft’s inferior search engine and has to overcome the hurdle of getting installed as a smartphone app. Meta has already cleared that hurdle.
In addition to the Blender bot, Meta unveiled a chatbot that can create a virtual environment by voice command and a universal translator to overcome language barriers in the Metaverse. In late February, Zuckerberg announced the creation of a “high-profile product group” for generative AI.