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

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In what was a turbulent week for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) workers. As part of its 11,000 employee layoffs, Meta laid off an entire ML research team that focused on infrastructure. However, on the opposite side of the economic spectrum from the industry, biotech company Sanofi this week detailed a $1.2 billion AI drug discovery deal with Insilico Medicine.

The contrasting news shows that while some companies are adjusting to what may be a pending recession, others continue to show signs of growth. That growth was also highlighted in a recent State of AI report published by Appen, detailing the many advances the industry has made this year, including in ML models. It also shed light on the challenges AI and ML professionals continue to face, including providing and preparing data related to model deployment and testing.

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

Snowflake wasn’t the only company looking to improve business economic tools this week. MachineFi Lab, a decentralized blockchain platform provider, unveiled a new tool dubbed “W3bstream,” which aims to “disrupt the machine economy,” the company said.

Here are more of our top 5 tech stories of the week:

  1. Meta layoffs affect an entire infrastructure-focused ML research teamFollowing Wednesday’s Meta layoffs, which reduced 11,000 employees, CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly shared a message to Meta employees that indicated, to some, that those working in AI and ML could avoid the brunt of the cuts.

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

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

    Quality data is at the heart of enterprise AI success. And consequently, it remains the main source of challenges for companies that want to apply ML in their applications and operations.

    The industry has made impressive strides in helping businesses overcome barriers to sourcing and preparing their data, according to Appen’s latest State of AI Report. But there is still much to be done at different levels, including the organizational structure and company policies.

  1. Snowflake Announces Plans to Improve Query and Collaboration Performance

    This week, Snowflake, at its annual Snowday event, announced enhancements to key elements of its platform, such as the elastic performance engine and Snowgrid technology. The move, he said, will provide businesses with a faster query experience to improve the overall economics of the data cloud, as well as 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 launch of W3bstream.

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

  1. Sanofi signs latest $1 billion deal for AI drug discovery

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

    The research collaboration comes on the heels of several other high-value AI drug discovery partnership announcements 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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