Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquires Meta's scientific search engine

The company plans to make its AI-powered research tool free to everyone.

In September, Facebook CEO and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan promised to spend a whopping $3 billion of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's extensive capital over the next 10 years, as it works towards its lofty goal of curing, preventing or managing all diseases by the end of the century. To get a little bit closer to that goal, the Initiative announced Monday that it will acquire the AI-powered research paper search engine Meta and make the service free for anyone to use.

Meta's search platform uses machine intelligence to analyze the number and quality of citations in medical journals and research papers, and then sorts them into the largest knowledge graph of its kind. Search results are then ranked in order of importance, similar to how Google News search gives a higher rank to highly linked sources, thus making it easier to find the most relevant or authoritative research among the thousands of scientific papers that are published every day. While that will undoubtedly help students and scientists save tons of time sifting through articles on PubMed, Meta can also help organizations decide where to direct their research budgets by identifying trends in certain areas of study or finding authors who have shown promising work in the past.

As TechCrunch notes, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative didn't disclose how much it paid for the Toronto-based startup, but once the acquisition is complete, Meta will add a few more enhancements to the product before rolling it out free to all in the next few months. "Going forward, our intent is not to profit from Meta's data and capabilities," Meta CEO Sam Molyneux said in a statement, "instead we aim to ensure they get to those who need them most, across sectors and as quickly as possible, for the benefit of the world."