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Walmart, Meta and LinkedIn are three companies currently testing internal generative AI options for employees that are safe for the use of company data, either in the form of generative AI “playgrounds” that offer a variety of models to choose from, or in the case of Meta, its own in-house internal chatbot.
These examples stand in contrast to companies that have banned the use of public generative AI tools like ChatGPT, including Goldman Sachs, Amazon and Verizon.
Walmart announces a new generative AI playground
Last week, Walmart announced its new Generative AI Playground, a platform the company describes as an “early-stage internal GenAI tool where associates can explore and learn about this new technology, while keeping our company and its data safe.”
The news builds on an interview in April with Desiree Gosby, VP of emerging technology at Walmart Global Tech, who told VentureBeat that the retailer is building on OpenAI’s GPT-4, among other models, and that generative AI is “as big a shift as mobile.”
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The announcement, made last week in a LinkedIn post by Cheryl Ainoa, EVP of new businesses and emerging technology at Walmart Global Tech, says, “there will be various GenAI models available to try out all in one place…enabling our associates to see the difference in how each model reacts to the same prompts.”
The screen welcoming associates to Walmart’s Generative AI Playground says that employees “learn best from trial an error” and that the tool is a “safe way to try how GenAI can be used without risk of data leakage or exposure” and a place associates can use “more realistic prompts for their job function.”
It also emphasized that the tool is only for experimentation and work purposes; that its results have not been validated as accurate and “should be validated before being internally shared or used to help make business decisions.”
The Verge reported this weekend that Meta has built an internal AI chatbot called Metamate that uses internal company data. The chatbot allows employees to create their own prompts and share them with colleagues. According to the report, Meta is “starting to roll it out internally to a small group now” to experiment in summarizing meetings, writing code and debugging features.
The Meta news comes on the heels of an internal all-hands meeting last week in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Meta is building generative AI into all of its products, including LLM-powered AI agents with unique personas and skill sets that help and entertain people. In addition, he highlighted an Agents Playground, an experimental internal-only interface powered by LLaMA where users “can have conversations with AI agents and provide feedback to help us improve our systems.”
Last month, Meta announced an AI “testing playground” for a small group of advertisers to use as they try out new generative AI-powered ad tools including text variation, background generation and image outcropping.
LinkedIn speeds up development with internal sandbox
In April, LinkedIn’s head of data and AI, Ya Xu, told VentureBeat about the company’s Generative AI Playground, an internal developer sandbox. The tool allows engineers to explore LinkedIn data with advanced generative AI models from OpenAI and other sources. The company also brought together engineers for LinkedIn’s largest-ever internal Hackathon, featuring thousands of participants.
Xu said that her team early on prioritized an engineering philosophy “rooted in exploration over building a mature final product.” The maturity for the right features and experiences would occur over time, she explained, but the exploration was encouraged by putting generative AI technology in the hands of every engineer and product manager who was interested.
“They need to have a better understanding of what the are problems are,” she said, “so when we build the product [using these models] we can prevent them from from happening.”
(Editor’s note: Executives from Walmart and LinkedIn will be speaking at VB Transform, a networking event for technical decision-makers, in San Francisco on July 11 and 12 focused on generative AI in the enterprise.)
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