Mark Zuckerberg's Vision: How AI Will Unlock The Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the leader in the emergent metaverse via his holding company, Meta, and is placing his top technolgists behind his highly ambitious vision.

Zuckerberg thinks that the metaverse, a futuristic idea of virtual environments where users can work, socialise and play, will be the successor to the mobile Internet.

Zuckerberg  says the metaverse will require advances across a whole range of areas and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the key to unlocking a lot of these advances. 

The recent Meta event titled “Inside the lab: Building for the metaverse with AI” was a significant public step in Meta’s quest to unlock the metaverse with AI, after it previous said  that it was building a new supercomputer to power the metaverse. 

Zuckerberg is ready to build multiple huge AI systems that will drive the nascent metaverse world. “We work on a lot of different technologies here at Meta, everything from virtual reality to designing our own data centres. And we’re particularly focused on foundational technologies that can make entirely new things possible... Today, we’re going to focus on perhaps the most important foundational technology of our time: artificial intelligence,” he announced.

Zuckerberg says the kinds of experiences people will be able to have in the metaverse are beyond what’s possible today, describing the metaverse as “an immersive version of the Internet.”

Following Zuckerberg’s keynote speech, the leader of Facebook AI, Jérôme Pesenti, and co-managing director at Facebook AI Research, Joelle Pineau, drilled into how Meta wants to unlock the metaverse with AI in a session titled “Unlocking the Metaverse with AI and Open Science.”  Pesenti noted that AI is one of the keys to the metaverse. He said the mission of Meta AI is to bring the world closer together by advancing AI through AI research breakthroughs and improving Meta products through them.

Pesenti said Meta AI is making significant progress in critical areas like embodiment and robotics, creativity and self-supervised learning. 

Self-supervised learning, where machines learn from direct human supervision, has  up until now been achieved by teaching oriented systems to perform a single task by giving them lots of human-generated examples.  However, the challenge with this approach, according to Pesenti, is that it’s task-dependent. In this approach, it isn’t clear when the machine really understands beyond the narrow task, and requires a lot of human labour that can introduce unwanted biases.

Pesenti said that Meta AI is moving to another self-supervised approach, where AI can learn data without any human supervision. “For example, when dealing with language, the AI system can remove words from the input text and try to get them by inferring patterns in the surrounding words. As the AI system gets better, it also improves its understanding of the meaning and structure of language... This is one of the biggest advantages of this self-supervised model: It’s task-independent, such that a single model can be leveraged with minimal fine tuning to perform several downstream tasks. The model can help to do things like identifying hate speech, while also ensuring your news feed in search results won’t run events.”

Meta don’t just want AI models that understand language, images and videos. They want AI models that understand the entire world around us. "With the advent of the metaverse, we have a unique challenge and a unique opportunity to make that happen" Presenti said. 

Meta AI has been experimenting with new touch sensors, partnering with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT to create sensors that use AI techniques to infer contact location and measure contact forces through image changes recorded by a camera within the sensors, respectively. Compared with currently available commercial tactile sensors, Pineau said the digit sensor created in partnership with MIT is much cheaper to manufacture.

The metaverse presents numerous technical challenges to overcome before Mark Zuckerberg's vision can be realised. Many of the  developments in AI are deeply grounded within the online universe and the development of metaverse modalities, including  speech, language and human simulation will not be easy to achieve.

Venturebeat:    Reuters:     PCTechM\g:     Business Insider:     BusinessLine:     Minute Hack:   

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