Meta, however, was hamstrung, in part, by its reputation as a corporate giant that helps spread untruths, Dr. LeCun said last month. And with responsibilities to billions of users, it could not afford to leave online a chatbot that can generate false and biased information.
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“OpenAI and other small companies are in a better position to actually get some credit for releasing this kind of thing,” said Chirag Shah, a University of Washington professor who has explored the flaws in technologies like Galactica and ChatGPT. “They are not going to get the same kind of blowback.”
In recent years, Meta has also shifted its focus to another technology area: the immersive online world of the so-called metaverse, which Mr. Zuckerberg has said he believes is the next big thing. In the short term, it is unclear how the company can offer generative A.I. products with its existing services in a way that really captures the public’s attention.
That does not mean it isn’t trying. Meta is fast-tracking its efforts to put A.I.-driven products into customers’ hands, said Irina Kofman, a senior director of product management for generative A.I. who oversees XAI, a new team that aims to help build A.I. products across the company. Mr. Zuckerberg is directly involved in steering the initiatives, holding weekly meetings with product leaders and top A.I. researchers, she said.
In a call last week with investors, Mr. Zuckerberg repeatedly mentioned A.I. He called it “the foundation of our discovery engine and our ads business” and added that it would “enable many new products and additional transformations within our apps.”
Some Meta executives have spoken about the generative A.I. boom with a distinct air of sour grapes. During his online discussion last month, Dr. LeCun described ChatGPT as “not particularly innovative” and “nothing revolutionary” because it relied on technologies developed and deployed by Meta, Google and other companies.
Earlier last year, Meta released a chatbot, BlenderBot, that stretched the state of the art, Dr. LeCun said. But it never caught on, he said, because the company had worked hard to ensure that it would not produce offensive material.