At its Connect developer conference, held on Wednesday 27th of September, Meta unveiled its latest developments, introducing a host of AI features for its apps and devices.
Meta AI is ‘an advanced conversational assistant’, that will be available on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, eventually rolling out to the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and the Quest 3, Meta’s new mixed reality VR headset, set to rival Apple’s Vision Pro. Through a partnership with Microsoft’s Bing, Meta AI can access real-time information in text-based chats. The beta has been released in the US.
Other AI features announced at the conference include sticker generation from text prompts, image editing and 28 individual AIs that users can message on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said “This isn’t just going to be about answering queries. This is about entertainment and helping you do things to connect with the people around you, helping you accomplish the things that you want.”
These new AIs are pretty different from the chatbots we’ve seen on the market so far. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has a relatively basic chat-based interface but its technology has proven to be valuable to many, compared with Snapchat’s My AI, which has a customisable avatar, name and bio, but remains just a basic chatbot that can only really provide very short term entertainment.
Meta’s new chatbots definitely won’t be a one-stop shop for all of your AI needs. Instead, Meta is striving to create ‘AIs that have more personality, opinions, and interests, and are a bit more fun to interact with’, adopting a high level of ‘realism, embodiment and connectedness’.
Why introduce 28 separate AIs as well as a ‘conversational assistant’? Well, during Wednesday’s conference, Zuckerberg said, “People aren’t going to want to interact with one single super-intelligent AI – people will want to interact with a bunch of different ones.”
28 individual and unique characters have been created, some portrayed by familiar celebrities. To solidify each AI’s personality, each one has its own profile on both Facebook and Instagram, making them feel much more real than they are.
Some of the characters seem to be much more valuable than others, with some only existing for entertainment purposes. Here are a few of the upcoming chatbots:
Dungeon Master, portrayed by rapper Snoop Dogg, is an ‘adventurous storyteller’ who will lead users through a text-based adventure game.
Max is a sous chef, played by cook Roy Choi, who will be able to generate recipes from a list of ingredients.
Lorena, portrayed by author and actor Padma Lakshmi, is a travel expert who can give tips and tricks related to travel and holidays.
Some other personalities that users can experience include a ‘dance enthusiast’, ‘MMA expert’ and ‘approachable golf pro’. The more entertainment-focused personalities include a ‘ride-or-die older sister’, a ‘quirky alien’ and a ‘sarcastic robot’. It doesn’t stop there, as Meta claims to be releasing more personalities in the future, covering a range of interests including gaming, fashion and philosophy.
Meta has also announced AI Studio, a platform that allows others to create their own AIs for use across Meta’s platforms. Developers will be able to build third-party AIs within the next few weeks, and in the longer term, even those who are not able to code will have the opportunity to create a unique chatbot through a sandbox.
Businesses and brands will be able to create an AI to suit their values, using it to improve their customer service experiences across Meta’s messaging platforms. This will be launched in alpha, with plans to scale further in 2024.
Meta has taken a few steps back from the development of the Metaverse in order to catch up to the other tech giants who are putting incredible time and financial investment into AI. However, improving the Metaverse remains a main goal for Meta, with plans to integrate the new AI chatbots into the virtual world in the future.
These chatbots are definitely a new and unique take on AI, and I’m looking forward to seeing how brands use them to their advantage.