Meta introduces new AI tech to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

The world’s most popular apps Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will be impacted the introduction of new artificial intelligence technology announced by Meta today.

The company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, revealed three major pieces of news at Meta Connect in Menlo Park: the new Quest 3 mixed reality headset, new AI developments and the latest generation of Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses.

It was the AI technology that will likely have the most immediate impact on Australians.

This is because Meta is the dominant social media company for Aussies: 73 per cent use Facebook, 63 per cent use Messenger, 56 per cent use Instagram and 35 per cent use WhatsApp, according to research by Meltwater.

This means the new AI capabilities Meta is launching will impact applications used by millions of Australians — and for many it will be the first time they use AI.

The new tech will allow people to custom create stickers using prompts on apps like Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Stories.

Instagram is set for a huge shake-up led by the technology, with new capabilities to create an almost-infinite number of filters through AI.

These filters can drastically change a photo.

Another new feature on Instagram is the ability to change the background of a photo, for example by including AI generated images of animals, or changing the scene from a bedroom to a street in New York.

The most powerful tool of all will likely be a new AI assistant called Meta AI. This will be like a person who can answer questions, based on powerful new technology leveraging a large language model. Meta AI will have access to real-time information through a partnership with Bing,

and intriguingly, will have the capability to generate images based on text prompts.

Llama 2

In his keynote address today, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg said Meta has been moving quickly on AI.

“At Meta alone we have launched AI models that can generate 3D models from text prompts, that can create sound from images, that can bring objects into VR just by looking at them and let you speak a different language in your own voice,” he said.

The company also launched a leading open-source foundation model Llama 2 in the past 12 months.

Although Chat GPT has taken the tech world by storm, many people have not yet had direct experience with AI large language models.

That will change now Meta are implementing AI technology apps used by billions of people around the world.

Emu

Llama 2 is the open source language model used by Meta for text-based AI generated command and response programming.

But Meta is also moving into the AI image generation territory with its new Emu software, the acronym of Expressive Media Universe.

Emu has the power to create stunning images from simple commands like: “A fairy sloth in a magical forest” or “A fairy cat in a rainbow forest”.

AI image generation is already around, but you generally need to pay. Meta’s new tech will be free.

And it only takes about five seconds for Emu to generate the images.

“It makes it really fun to play with, because you can just iterate (make successive commands to change the output),” Zuckerberg said.

“We built this into chat.”

Stickers

The first feature that will likely be rolled out in Australia is the change to stickers.

Every day people send hundreds of millions of them.

Meta will harness the power of AI to allow people to custom-create stickers based on simple prompts. You can create a sticker of virtually anything, the potential applications are enormous.

AI editing tools on Instagram

Meta is introducing two new functions that will allow AI-generated content to flood onto Instagram.

Restyle is basically a filter-generating function. All users need to do is prompt AI and the visual style described will be implemented by the AI. An example is, “oil painting” and the AI will change a normal photograph to make it look like it was painted by van Gogh. Alternatively, you could ask the AI to make the image look like a collage made from newspaper and magazine clippings. This will be a whole lot of fun and will unlock almost endless possibilities.

Backdrop is AI technology that can change the scene or background of a photo. You could command, “surround me in cute kittens” and an ordinary photo will be transformed, showing you being mobbed by felines. Again, this is only really limited by your imagination.

Meta AI

The most useful and potentially powerful tool being rolled out by Meta is the Meta AI assistant.

This human-like assistant will be on hand to answer all kinds of text queries using real-time information via Bing — along the lines of the much-hyped Chat GPT.

It will be on WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and soon on the Ray-Ban Meta smartglasses and Quest 3.

It can answer questions and provide weather updates, meal suggestions and the best place to go camping.

It will also have image generation capabilities.

One of the most intriguing things Meta has planned is to incorporate the assistant with the smartglasses technology, which will enable the AI to understand what you’re looking at and provide information based on that.

This is really sci-fi stuff.

Responsible use of AI

There have been warnings about the potential misuse of AI, and Meta was keen to emphasise that it is developing and implementing the technology in a responsible manner.

Meta’s chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth revealed Meta had developed an AI that is able to accurately mimic a person’s voice, but that it had decided not to proceed given the potential for mischief.

Meta says it is constantly testing the capabilities and would always have safeguards in place before any new product is launched.

The company is working with governments and experts to ensure guardrails in place, according to a statement issued by Meta.

AI-generated images will be marked as such, and they may also contain invisible markings.

The latest announcements are a sign that AI is continuing to make inroads in all kinds of places and is now going mainstream in apps used by a huge proportion of the world’s population.

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