Meta Introduces Generative AI Chatbot Assistant and a Cast of Celebrity Chatbot Characters
Meta unveiled a stable of new large language model-powered conversational AI chatbots for its messaging services this week at its annual Meta Connect event. The company’s ‘Meta AI’ assistant headlines the collection of celebrity-backed chatbot characters, performing like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Anthropic’s Claude. The chatbot can converse with users to answer questions and plan events with information sourced from the internet through Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Meta AI is coming to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, as well as the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and upcoming Quest 3 VR headset.
Meta AI employs a version of Meta’s Llama 2 LLM enhanced by some of its recent research. Meta AI can carry out natural conversations and access real-time information online through Bing, a huge benefit that many free generative AI chatbots lack. Meta AI can also generate (watermarked) images from text prompts upon request using a new text-to-image model named Emu that Meta’s AI researchers also unveiled this week. The new chatbot evokes memories of previous failed AI assistants from the company, including Facebook Messenger M, the AI assistant trialed and then shut down after a relatively brief period, as well as the Portal smart display’s ‘Hey Facebook’ wake word. Meta clearly sees its new endeavor as more likely to succeed.
“Imagine you and your friends are in a group chat discussing which trailhead to try in Santa Cruz.,” Meta suggested in a blog post. “Meta AI surfaces options directly in the chat, so you can decide as a group which location to explore. What if after the hike you want a creative way to commemorate the day? Meta AI can help. Type “@MetaAI /imagine” followed by a descriptive text prompt like “create a button badge with a hiker and redwood trees,” and it will create a digital merit badge in the chat with your friends.”
Meta AI is the centerpiece of more than 25 new AI chatbots from Meta, each with a unique personality embodied by prominent celebrity influencers and athletes. Meta said it partnered with celebrities to play these AI personas and shape their backgrounds. The idea is to make chatting with each AI character feel like talking to a familiar person versus a faceless bot. Profiles for each will exist on Facebook and Instagram. Meta is planning to eventually open up tools for developers and businesses to build specialized chatbots on its platforms as well. The characters include lifestyle vlogger Billie, played by Kendall Jenner; wisecracking sports fan Bru, played by Tom Brady; whodunnit-solving detective Amber, played by Paris Hilton; and choose your own adventure story guide Dungeon Master, played by Snoop Dogg.
“Our journey with AIs is just beginning, and it isn’t purely about building AIs that only answer questions. We’ve been creating AIs that have more personality, opinions, and interests, and are a bit more fun to interact with,” Meta explained in a blog post. “You can think of these AIs as a new cast of characters – all with unique backstories. And because interacting with them should feel like talking to familiar people, we did something to build on this even further. We partnered with cultural icons and influencers to play and embody some of these AIs. They’ll each have profiles on Instagram and Facebook, so you can explore what they’re all about.”
The reveals position Meta at the forefront of integrating conversational AI into consumer messaging apps. Partnerships with celebrities on branded chatbot personas provide a unique spin. However, massive usage could quickly strain Meta’s existing moderation resources. The company noted upfront that current knowledge limitations may cause inaccurate responses.