Mark Zuckerberg Bets Big On AI

Alt Futures Staff
What is Meta’s CEO big new project, after the Metaverse —his previous darling— has largely been considered a failure?
Mark Zuckerberg shifts Meta towards AI. Photo: Annie Spratt | Unsplash

Meta, formerly Facebook, has announced through its founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that generative AI technologies will be a new centralized focus for its main products, which include the three titans Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp.

“We’re creating a new top-level product group at Meta focused on generative AI to turbocharge our work in this area,” said Zuckerberg in a recent post. This new shift to AI comes at a time when the tech company seems to be actively looking for new horizons, amidst massive layoffs in 2022 and more announced for 2023, which Zuckerberg has named the “year of efficiency.”

Jumping On The AI Train

Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement. Photo: Facebook

The shift is timely since massively adopted AI technologies such as ChatGPT have recently gone mainstream for users and companies all around the world. And Meta is evidently not planning to be left behind. It is also aiming to incorporate the technology beyond text into its image and video products.

“Over the longer term, we’ll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways. We’re exploring experiences with text (like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like creative Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video and multi-modal experiences,” wrote Zuckerberg on his Facebook account.

This means that Meta’s general focus is gradually turning towards generative AI, along with the rest of the tech industry. It also means that the focus is shifting away from former projects that not so long ago were deemed as the next revolutionary step for the internet, namely the Metaverse.

What Happened To The Metaverse?

The Metaverse experience needs a VR headset. Photo: Jessica Lewis | Unsplash

In a few words, it is dying, and it will most likely fade away in the future; or it will remain within Meta’s bigger products as a much smaller component than initially intended. And this is happening as silently and smoothly as possible, as The Street reported: “There will be no press release, no big announcement (…) But make no mistake: Mark Zuckerberg just buried the Metaverse. The Metaverse is dead.”

The Metaverse was initially conceived as a vast universe where people would interact with legless, cartoony avatars through virtual reality headsets. In principle, it would have been a medium to interact for social, commercial, and business purposes. However, after years of development and billions invested, people were just not convinced enough by the project to jump in as massively as Meta intended.  

In fact, the cumulative loss of Metaverse projects in 2021 and 2022 was almost $24 billion dollars. 

Staying In Tune With The Times

OpenAI’s ChatGPT leads the industry’s AI development. Photo: Levart_Photographer | Unsplash

What this shift to AI shows is that Mark Zuckerberg is indeed able to recognize where the technology sector is going, and managed to turn the ship in that direction (with no little damage to his company in the process). And he is not alone, since Microsoft, Google, and even Snapchat are all doing the same, as The Verge reported.

At the moment, it seems certain that the revolutions of the future will be generated by AI rather than by virtual representations, at least in Meta’s new perspective: “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,” concluded Zuckerberg on his post on Meta and AI.


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