Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquires AI-powered science search engine Meta

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is bolstering its scientific credentials with the acquisition of AI-assisted academic search engine, Meta.

On Monday, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s philanthrocpapitalism project announced that it will allow researchers to access the tool for free. The purchase marks the latest step in the initiative’s bid to eradicate all diseases within the next century. Both Zuckerberg and his wife, Chan, previously pledged to donate $3 billion to medical research in order to make their goal a reality.

Opening up a powerful collaborative tool such as Meta to the research community could dramatically increase the acceleration of scientific breakthroughs, according to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Meta, which uses AI neural networks — computing systems loosely modeled on the human brain that are fed vast amounts of data until they become autonomous — to find, assess, and connect millions of peer-reviewed articles, will itself stand to receive a boost from its new parent company. Meta CEO Sam Molyneux claims the next step is to enable developers to integrate the tool into third-party platforms and services.

“From my first conversation with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative last year, it was clear how much we shared in common,” states Molyneux. “From their passion for improving human health, to their belief in the power of technology to enable progress, to their focus on helping scientists. We … feel privileged to join and to collaborate with the tremendous talent they are bringing together.”

Cori Bargmann, president of science, and Brian Pinkerton, chief technology officer of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, write the following about Meta’s foreseeable use cases: “The potential for this kind of platform is virtually limitless: a researcher could use Meta to help identify emerging techniques for understanding coronary artery disease; a graduate student could see that two different diseases activate the same immune defense pathway; and clinicians could find scientists working on the most promising Zika treatments sooner.”

Earlier this month, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative made two key hires in the form of David Plouffe and Ken Mehlman. It is thought that Plouffe, a former campaign manager for Barack Obama, will lead the project’s policy and advocacy effort. Mehlman, who previously ran the Republican National Committee, has been assigned the task of leading the company’s political advisory board.

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