Meta, owner of Facebook and instagram, plans to launch a series of AI chatbots with different personalities on its social networks as soon as September, according to a report in the Financial Times. It’s the latest attempt to curb declining engagement, especially on Facebook, and could be a shortcut to harvesting even more data about Meta’s billions of users.
Anonymous sources who spoke to the FT said these AI “personas” could include a bot that impersonates Abraham Lincoln and another for organizing travel that talks like a surfer. The plan is for these chatbots to help search for content, answer questions, and provide a little companionship and fun. Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Social media might finally get social again, you’ll just be talking to computers instead of human beings—but what’s the difference really?
Meta’s been relatively tight-lipped about its consumer-facing AI plans, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted at the project when he discussed upcoming products at the company’s earnings call Wednesday.
“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 said. “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.”
Apparently, the billionaire is particularly obsessed with long-term visions of AI chatbots in the metaverse. The FT reports it spoke to one source who said “Zuckerberg is spending all his energy and time ideating about this.”
Meta is hard at work trying to catapult itself to the front of the AI arms race. In late July, the company announced a partnership with Microsoft—which also works with ChatGPT maker OpenAI—for the second generation of LLaMA, Meta’s own AI language model, released the same month.
The AI craze hit the social media business just as hard as the rest of the tech industry. TikTok is testing a built-in chatbot called Tako in the Philippines, and Snapchat launched a chatbot called My AI for Snapchat Plus subscribers in February.