Top 5 Stories of the Week: Meta Layoffs, Sanofi’s Billion Dollar Deal, and Snowflake Updates

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In what has been a turbulent week for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) workers. As part of the layoffs of 11,000 employees, Meta laid off an entire ML research team focused on infrastructure. At the other end of the industry’s economic spectrum, however, biotech company Sanofi this week signed a $1.2 billion AI drug discovery deal with Insilico Medicine.

The contrasting news shows that while some companies are adjusting to an impending recession, others continue to show signs of growth. That growth was also underlined in a recent State of AI report from Appen, which details the many advances the industry has made this year, including in ML models. It also sheds light on the challenges AI and ML professionals continue to struggle with, including data sourcing and preparation related to model testing and deployment.

In data news, warehouse and multi-home giant Snowflake this week announced updates to its platform to both improve collaboration and improve the economics of the data cloud.

Snowflake wasn’t the only company looking to improve business economics tools this week. MachineFi Lab, a provider of decentralized blockchain platforms, has unveiled a new tool called the “W3bstream” that aims to “disrupt the machine economy,” the company said.

Here’s more of our top 5 tech stories of the week:

  1. Meta layoffs hit an entire ML research team focused on infrastructureFollowing Wednesday’s layoffs at Meta, which cut 11,000 employees, CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly shared a message to Meta employees that, for some, was a signal that those working in AI and ML could be spared the brunt of the cuts.

    However, a fired Meta researcher tweeted that he and the entire research organization called “Probability”, which focused on applying machine learning to the infrastructure stack, was being cut.

  1. Why data remains the biggest challenge for machine learning projects

    Quality data is at the heart of enterprise AI success. And that is why it remains the main source of challenges for companies looking to adopt ML in their applications and operations.

    According to Appen’s latest State of AI report, the industry has made impressive strides in helping companies overcome the barriers to sourcing and preparing their data. But much more needs to be done at various levels, including organizational structure and corporate policy.

  1. Snowflake Announces Plans to Improve Query Performance and Collaboration

    This week, at its annual Snowday event, Snowflake announced improvements to key elements of its platform, such as the elastic performance engine and Snowgrid technology. The move will provide businesses with a faster query experience for improving the overall data cloud economy and streamlined collaboration capabilities.

  1. Why the metaverse will rely on blockchain frameworks to connect to physical devices

    This week, MachineFi Lab – the core developer of IoTeX, a decentralized blockchain platform that enables human-machine interactions – announced the release of W3bstream.

    The new tool, it says, is “a blockchain-agnostic infrastructure with the power to disrupt the machine economy where innovation has stalled until now,” according to the company’s press release.

  1. Sanofi Signs Latest Billion Dollar Deal to Discover AI Drugs

    In an era where biopharmaceutical research in drug R&D remains expensive and slow and AI-based drug discovery platforms are growing rapidly, Paris-based pharmaceutical leader Sanofi announced a $1.2 AI drug discovery deal billion with startup Insilico Medicine.

    The research collaboration follows several other high-profile announcements of partnerships for AI drug discovery from Sanofi, including with Atomwise in August; a partnership expansion with Exscientia last January; and an equity investment in Owkin a year ago.

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