Which company first comes to mind when you think about artificial intelligence (AI)? My hunch is that the immediate response for many would be OpenAI, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, or Nvidia. And any of those would be good answers.

Don't forget about Meta Platforms (META 3.00%), though. The company is just as much of an AI player as any of the others mentioned above. It also happens to be the best-performing stock so far this year in the group.

Are you looking for the best AI stock to buy right now? Here's why Meta Platforms could be it.

1. AI is already making Meta a lot of money.

Alphabet, Microsoft, and Meta executives talked a lot about AI in their respective quarterly updates this week. That's appropriate since AI is important to all of these companies' future fortunes. But Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided the most detail about how AI is already making money for his company.

Zuckerberg stated in Meta's first-quarter conference call that more than 20% of the content in Facebook and Instagram feeds is now recommended by AI from accounts that users don't follow. He noted that AI recommendations on Reels have helped boost the time spent on Instagram by more than 24%.

All of this is translating to more money for Meta. Zuckerberg revealed that Reels' monetization efficiency in Q1 jumped more than 30% on Instagram and 40% on Facebook compared to the previous quarter. He also said that daily revenue from the company's Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns has skyrocketed 7x in just the last six months.

The overall advertising market continues to be challenging. However, Meta's advertising revenue increased by more than $1.1 billion (4%) year over year. It appears that AI played a key role in this improvement.

2. The potential for generative AI to transform Meta's social platforms is massive.

Meta's AI initiatives go beyond just recommendations. The company is also focusing heavily on generative AI. And the potential for generative AI to transform Meta's social platforms is massive.

Zuckerberg said in Meta's Q1 update, "I think there's an opportunity to introduce AI agents to billions of people in ways that will be useful and meaningful." Arguably the most important potential use of these agents for Meta financially could be in helping small businesses use the company's platforms more effectively.

For example, Zuckerberg stated that Meta is exploring how to enable businesses to use AI agents for customer support by chatting with customers on Messenger and WhatsApp. He also mentioned visual creation tools that help businesses create ads for Facebook and Instagram.

Similar visual creation tools could enable users on Meta's social platforms to create content as well. Such capabilities could help the company keep the more than 3 billion people who use its apps every day coming back. And that means advertisers will keep coming back, too.

3. AI could help make Meta's metaverse vision a reality.

Meta has two primary focuses -- AI and the metaverse. Zuckerberg addressed the speculation that the company could be retreating from its metaverse vision head-on in the Q1 conference call, stating, "I just want to say up front that that's not accurate. We've been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both."

Importantly, Zuckerberg believes that AI could help make Meta's metaverse vision a reality. He noted that key advancements in computer vision (a specialized area within AI) helped the company develop its first stand-alone virtual reality (VR) device. Meta's mixed-reality development is also based on multiple AI technologies.

AI will also be embedded inside the metaverse. Zuckerberg gave an example of this, saying that AI could help users "create avatars, objects, worlds, and code to tie them all together."

The best AI stock?

Do these three arguments make Meta Platforms the best AI stock to buy right now? Not necessarily. There are plenty of other factors for investors to consider, including competitive dynamics and valuation.

I'm not sure if anyone can say for sure at this point which AI stock will be the biggest winner over the long term. My view is that multiple stocks will deliver big gains as a result of the AI boom. I fully expect that Meta will be one of them.