Meta could be on the verge of jumping back into the AI chatbot battles—and bringing a former president along with it.
The Financial Times reports that the social media company intends to launch a series of chatbots with distinct personalities, including one that impersonates Abraham Lincoln. Another would provide travel advice using the dialogue of a surfer.
According to the report, the chatbots could be available as soon as September. (Meta did not respond to a request for comment from Fast Company.)
Aside from being a fun novelty for users to experiment with—and a reason to spend more time on Meta’s apps—the addition of AI chatbots could potentially improve the search functions of the company’s holdings, which include Facebook, Instagram, and Threads. It could also make suggestions.
There is also the possibility that chatbots could be used to collect even more information about users, their interests, and their habits, allowing the company to target their advertisements more effectively.
In June, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal that 150 million people have used Snapchat’s chatbot to send over 10 billion messages, a fact that he believed could improve ad targeting on the platform.
Obviously, Meta has experimented with AI chatbots in the past, and it did not go so well. About a year ago, Meta introduced BlenderBot 3, a prototype that the company claimed could discuss virtually any topic.
Almost immediately, it was reported that the company had disparaged its founder, telling one user that Mark Zuckerberg was “a good businessman, but his business practices are not always ethical” and telling another, “Since deleting Facebook, my life has been better”
Moreover, the AI reportedly made anti-Semitic remarks and claimed that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was rigged. After a disastrous debut, BlenderBot never found an audience despite Facebook’s rapid changes, as users had already moved on.
Meta has primarily focused on the metaverse; however, when it laid off employees earlier this year, it signaled a reprioritization of AI. And in the company’s earnings report for the second quarter, released on July 26, Zuckerberg made it clear that AI would play a significant role in Meta’s future.
Zuckerberg’s Vision for Enriching Social Interaction and Metaverse Immersion
“I’m going to share more details later this year, but you can imagine lots of ways AI could help people connect and express themselves in our apps: creative tools that make it easier and more fun to share content, agents that act as assistants, coaches, or that can help you interact with businesses and creators, and more,” Zuckerberg stated in an analyst call.
“These new products will improve everything that we do across both mobile apps and the metaverse—helping people create worlds and the avatars and objects that inhabit them as well.”
While this development may be novel for Meta, it’s worth noting that other companies have already ventured into the realm of chatbots emulating the traits of real and fictional characters.
The Character.AI app is a prime example, enabling users to engage with a diverse range of personalities, including a vivid simulation of Elon Musk, characterized as “bombastic” in its interactions.
As the world of AI continues to evolve, these endeavors pave the way for transformative interactions, redefining how we communicate and experience the possibilities of the digital landscape.
Source: Fast Company