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Meta Announces New, 2,500 Staff Engineering Hub in Toronto, New Grants for Canadian Researchers

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Meta Announces New, 2,500 Staff Engineering Hub in Toronto, New Grants for Canadian Researchers


Meta has announced a significant new investment in the Canadian tech sector, with a pledge to build a new, 2,500 staff engineering hub in Toronto, as well as the launch of a new, $500k grant program for Canadian researchers to fund new explorations into metaverse-aligned technologies.

First off, on its new engineering hub –as part of an expansion of its existing Canadian Reality Labs and AI Research teams, Meta is building a new, purpose-built engineering lab, focused on next generation development.

As per Meta:

The majority of roles are engineering-focused and expected to span across building extended reality experiences and Meta technologies. We’re also establishing the first Canadian WhatsApp, Messenger and Remote Presence engineering teams and growing our Canadian Reality Labs and AI Research teams. These new, highly-skilled jobs will offer a blend of in-office and remote work options, creating economic opportunity for Canadian talent in every region of the country.”

The investment follows on from Meta’s recent announcement of a new, 2,000 staff ‘Meta Lab’ in Madrid, where it will explore new ways for Europeans to connect with each other in the next stage of digital connectivity.

In addition to this, Meta’s also launching a new grants program for Canadian researchers, with 17 projects getting $30k each to continue their work.

The projects being funded range from user-adaptive and personalized interactive systems, to AI and ‘hyper-connected virtual-physical objects’, all exploring new, advanced methods of digital connection and interaction, that will be critical for the next stage.

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Which is still some way off as yet.

Despite what some trendjumpers and ‘first-movers’ may want to suggest, many elements of the metaverse are still entirely conceptual, and Meta’s taking on a huge amount of staff overhead and investment in the hopes that these bets will eventually pay off.

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Which is still not certain. Despite Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg being considered a visionary, and the company being one of the largest tech firms in the world, there is still a question as to whether its metaverse vision will come to fruition, and evolve into the all-consuming, immersive, multi-purpose medium that Zuck and Co. want to see.

Adding further context on this aspect, Meta also included this description of the metaverse within its announcement:

The metaverse is the next evolution in social technologies and the successor to the mobile internet. It will be made up of digital spaces, including immersive 3D experiences, that are all interconnected so you can easily move between them, and has the potential to unlock access to new creative, social and economic opportunities. In the future, you’ll be able to access the metaverse from various devices, including VR headsets and AR glasses.

How, exactly, all of these technologies end up being interwoven remains to be seen, with interoperability being both a critical element, and key potential fail point of the broader metaverse picture.

Which is why Meta is investing so heavily – so much so that its investment in metaverse-aligned projects is essentially what shrunk its profits in Q4 2021, sending shares in Meta sinking.

These new staffing and infrastructure announcements show that it’s not reverting course, and it’s firmly committed to its metaverse vision – which likely means that Meta investors will be in for more rocky earnings announcements for some time yet.

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Canada, meanwhile, is the main beneficiary, with a huge amount of new investment into the emerging Toronto tech scene.

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“Canada is poised to have a critical role in building for the next evolution in social technologies, so we plan to help further establish the country as a global leader in this effort.”

It’s interesting to note Meta’s global expansion in this respect, especially in regards to how it’s going about choosing locations, with tax relief – generally the biggest guiding factor for such in the past – now seeming like less of a consideration (though, of course, these investments won’t change its overall income process).

It’ll be interesting to see how these thousands of new staff accelerate Zuckerberg’s grand vision, and whether that does indeed see its full metaverse scenario begin to take shape, sooner rather than later.

You can read more about the projects being funded by Meta’s new grants program here
 



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Elon Musk’s Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

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Elon Musk's Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

Okay, let’s just check in on the latest with the Twitter/Elon Musk takeover saga, and where things are placed to close out the week.

According to the latest reports, Musk’s team recently asked Twitter for more tweet info, in order to help it make an accurate assessment of bot activity in the app. This comes after Musk questioned Twitter’s claim that bots and fake accounts make up only 5% of its active user base, and said that his Twitter takeover deal could not go ahead unless Twitter could produce more evidence to support this figure.

Which Twitter did, by providing Musk with access to its ‘full firehose’ of tweets over a given period, which it shared with Musk’s team back on June 8th. Musk’s group has now had that data for a couple of weeks, but this week, it said that this info is not enough to go on, and that it needs even more insight from Twitter to make its judgment.

And after initially resisting calls for more data access, Twitter has now reportedly relented and handed over more tweet data access to Musk’s team.

Which may or may not be a concern, depending on how you see it.

In its initial data dump, Twitter reportedly gave Musk’s team info on:

  • Total user tweets (within a given time period)
  • Data on which devices were used

As noted, Musk’s team says that this has not provided it with the insight that it needs to conduct an accurate analysis of potential bot activity, so Twitter has now provided Musk with more ‘real-time API data’.

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It’s not clear whether that means that Twitter has provided everything that its API systems can provide, but that could mean that Musk’s team can now access:

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  • Real-time info on tweet text and visual elements/attachments
  • Data on retweets, replies, and quote Tweets for each
  • Data on tweet author, mentioned users, tagged locations, hashtag and cashtag symbols, etc
  • Date, time, location, device info

That should satisfy any analytical needs to uncover potential bot trends, and get a better handle on Twitter’s bot problem, though it also means that Musk has all your tweet info – which, again, it’s worth noting, Twitter up till now had been hesitant to provide.

I’m sure it’s fine. Musk’s team is beholden to disclosure laws around such, so it’s not like they can do anything much with that info anyway, in a legal sense. But the idea that the sometimes erratic Elon Musk now has all the tweets could be a little concerning for some.

But Twitter likely had to provide what it can, and if Musk is going to become CEO of the app soon anyway, he’s going to have access to all of that data either way.

But still, given Musk and Co’s past history of undermining and attacking critics, sacking trouble maker employees and digging up potential dirt on rivals, it sits a little uneasy.

Should be fine. No problems – no need to go deleting all your DMs (which are likely not included in the data that Twitter has provided at this stage).

According to reports, Musk’s team says that it now has the info it needs to make its assessment of bot activity, which should see the deal move forward (or not) sometime soon.

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Of course, no one knows what exactly is going to happen next, and whether Musk’s team will look to renegotiate, or even back out of the deal entirely as a result of its bot analysis. But it does seem like, one way or another, Musk will be forced to go ahead with the $44 billion transaction, with Twitter’s past bot reporting methodology already accepted by the SEC, giving it legal grounding to argue that it’s acted in good faith, regardless of what Musk’s team finds.

The next steps then, according to Musk, would be securing debt financing and gaining Twitter shareholder approval, clearing the last hurdles for Musk to change the app’s name to ‘Telsla Social’, and add a million references to ‘420’ into the platforms various terms and conditions.

Because of the memes, because weed jokes are still funny to the richest man in the world – because he vacillates between inspired genius and a massive nerd who now gets to play out some fantasy of being cool.

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Or something. Who knows what goes on in Elon Musk’s head – which is also why most are hesitant to bet against him, as nobody knows if and how he might be able to fix Twitter, and whether this is a great investment or a massive disaster.

It seems like we may soon find out. Maybe. Who knows. Either way, the memes should be great.



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