Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Meta Platforms, in July 2021.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants his workforce to know that the company is in the middle of the artificial intelligence race.

During a meeting with employees on Thursday in the Hacker Square pavilion at Meta’s Menlo Park headquarters, Zuckerberg discussed Meta’s AI efforts, a spokesperson confirmed. It was the first event held there since before the Covid pandemic.

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Zuckerberg addressed Meta’s recent layoffs at the beginning of the gathering, but he focused mostly on the company’s projects in the burgeoning field of generative AI, which uses written prompts to create conversational text and compelling visuals.

“In the last year, we’ve seen some really incredible breakthroughs — qualitative breakthroughs — on generative AI and that gives us the opportunity to now go take that technology, push it forward, and build it into every single one of our products,” Zuckerberg said, according to a statement that was shared with CNBC. “We’re going to play an important and unique role in the industry in bringing these capabilities to billions of people in new ways that other people aren’t going to do.”

Axios first reported on the meeting and the AI projects Meta is pursuing.

While Meta has long touted its investments in AI, the company hasn’t been at the center of the conversation regarding the latest consumer applications, which have come from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, Google and Microsoft itself.

At the meeting on Thursday, Zuckerberg and other Meta executives detailed some of the company’s work incorporating generative AI models into the metaverse, the nascent virtual world that Meta is sinking billions of dollars into every quarter to try and make a reality. In particular, they talked about how AI can help create the 3D visuals for the metaverse.

Meta said it’s giving employees access to several internal generative AI tools to help develop prototypes, and the company is hosting a hackathon for workers to show off their AI projects.

The company also plans to debut a service for Instagram users that will let them modify photos via text prompts and share them in the app’s Stories feature.

Additionally, Meta plans for its Messenger and WhatsApp services to eventually include the ability for users to engage with more sophisticated AI-powered chatbots as a form of entertainment.

Meta executives told employees that the company is still committed to releasing AI research to the open source community. However, they didn’t address a recent letter from Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) expressing concern over a public leak of the company’s LLaMA language model and the “the potential for its misuse in spam, fraud, malware, privacy violations, harassment, and other wrongdoing and harms.”

Last week, Meta told employees that they will need to work at the company’s offices three days a week, starting in September. Amazon and Google have also altered their previous work-from-home policies in recent months.

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