Zuckerberg disses closed-source AI competitors as trying to ‘create God’


Riffing on what he sees ahead for the future of AI, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview published Thursday that he deeply believes that there will not be “just one AI.” Touting the value of open source to put AI tools into many people’s hands, Zuckerberg took a moment to disparage the efforts of unnamed competitors who he sees as less than open, adding that they seem to think they’re “creating God.”

“I don’t think that AI technology is a thing that should be kind of hoarded and…that one company gets to use it to build whatever central. single product that they’re building,” Zuckerberg said in a new YouTube interview with Kane Sutter (@Kallaway).

“I find it a pretty big turnoff when people in the tech industry…talk about building this ‘one true AI,’” he continued. “It’s almost as if they kind of think they’re creating God or something and … it’s just — that’s not what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t think that’s how this plays out.”

“I get why, if you’re in some AI lab … you want to feel like what you’re doing is super important, right? … It’s like, ‘We’re building the one true thing for the future.’ But I just think, like, realistically, that’s not how stuff works, right?,” Zuckerberg explained. “It’s not like there was one app on people’s phones that people use. There’s not one creator that people want all their content from. There’s not one business that people want to buy everything from.”

In the conversation, Zuckerberg said there needs to be a lot of different AIs that get created to reflect people’s different interests. The company also on Thursday announced early tests of its AI Studio software in the U.S. that will allow creators and others to build AI avatars that will be able to reach people through Instagram’s messaging system. The AIs will be able to answer questions from their followers and chat with people in a fun way, but will be labeled as “AI” to not cause confusion.

When referring to companies that build closed AI platforms, the Meta CEO said he didn’t believe this is how to create the best experiences for people.

“You want to unlock and … unleash as many people as possible trying out different things,” he continued. “I mean, that’s what culture is, right? It’s not like one group of people getting to dictate everything for people.”

His comments feel a bit like sour grapes, as they arrive shortly after reports emerged that Meta had tried to negotiate with Apple to integrate its AIs into operating systems, instead of only working with OpenAI at launch, but got shot down. According to Bloomberg, Apple decided to not move forward with formal discussions with Meta because it didn’t believe its privacy practices were strong enough.

Without a deal, Meta loses access to potentially billions of iPhone users worldwide. But it appears that Meta’s plan B is to build technology that expands beyond the smartphone.

In the interview, Zuckerberg touched on the progress the company is seeing with the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, for example, saying that its path would one day converge with the work being done now on full holographic displays. However, the former will have more appeal in the near term, he said.

“I actually think you can create a great experience with cameras, and a microphone, and speakers and the ability to do multimodal AI, even before you have any kind of display on these glasses,” he noted. Plus, not having a display keeps the costs down. Meta’s smart glasses are around $300, and the Meta Quest Pro is $1,000, for comparison.

Zuckerberg said there will be three different products ahead of convergence: display-less smart glasses, a heads-up type of display and full holographic displays. Eventually, he said that instead of neural interfaces connected to their brain, people might one day wear a wristband that picks up signals from the brain communicating with their hand. This would allow them to communicate with the neural interface by barely moving their hand. Over time, it could allow people to type, too.

Zuckerberg cautioned that these types of inputs and AI experiences may not immediately replace smartphones, though. “I don’t think, in the history of technology, the new platform — it usually doesn’t completely make it that people stop using the old thing. It’s just that you use it less,” he said.

For instance, people now use smartphones to do things they may have done on their computers 10 to 15 years ago.

“I think that’s gonna happen with glasses, too,” he said. “It’s not like we’re going to stop having a phone. It’s just that it’s going to stay in your pocket, and you’ll take it out when you really need to do stuff with it. But more and more, I think people will just start saying, ‘Hey, I can take this photo with my glasses. I can ask this question to AI, or I can send someone a message — it’s just a lot easier with glasses,” Zuckerberg said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 years from now, we’ll probably still have phones, but it’s probably going to be much more intentional in usage as opposed to just reflexively reaching for it and grabbing it for any technological thing that you want to do,” he said.

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