Meta: Innovating via Intentions

April 17, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Analytics India published “Meta Releases AI on WhatsApp, Looks Like Perplexity AI.” The headline caught my attention. I don’t pay much attention to the Zuckbook and the other Meta properties. The Analytics India story made this statement which caught my attention:

What users type in the search bar remains confidential and is not shared with Meta AI unless users intentionally send a query to the Meta AI chatbot.

I am okay with copying from Silicon Valley type outfits. That’s part of the game, which includes colors, shuffling staff, and providing jibber jabber instead of useful interfaces and documentation about policies. But think about the statement: “unless users intentionally send a query to the Meta AI chatbot.” Doesn’t that mean we don’t keep track of queries unless a user sends a query to the Zuckbook’s smart software? I love the “intention” because the user is making a choice between a search function which one of my team told me is not very useful and a “new” search system which will be better. If it is better, then user queries get piped into a smart search system for which the documentation is sparse. What happens to those data? How will those data be monetized? Will the data be shared with those who have a business relationship with Meta?


Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough, but that’s what one might say about MSFT security, right?

So many questions.

The article states:

Users can still search their conversations for specific content without interacting with Meta AI, maintaining the same level of ease and privacy as before. Additionally, personal messages and calls remain end-to-end encrypted, ensuring neither WhatsApp nor Meta can access them, even with the Meta AI integration.

There is no substantiation of this assertion. Indeed, since the testimony of Frances Haugen, I am not certain what Meta does, and I am not willing to accept assertions about what is accessible to the firm’s employees and what is not. What about the metadata? Is that part of the chunk of data Meta cannot access?

Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are interesting services. The information in the Meta services appears to be to be quite useful for a number of endeavors. Academic research groups are less helpful than they could be. Some have found data cut off or filtered. Imitating another AI outfit’s graphic design is the lowest on my list of Meta issues.

The company is profitable. It has considerable impact. The firm has oodles of data. But now a user’s intention gives permission to an interesting outfit to do whatever with that information. Unsettling? Nope, just part of the unregulated world of digital operations which some assert are having a somewhat negative impact on society. Yep, intentionally.

Stephen E Arnold, April 17, 2024


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