Meta launches AI chatbots on Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp

Meta has launched artificial intelligence-driven chatbots on Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, and given developers the ability to create their versions of AI assistants. The US tech giant is seeking to increase engagement across its platforms.

Meta announced an AI assistant at its Connect developer conference, held on Wednesday. The AI assistant will search for answers through Microsoft’s Bing and can also generate AI images.

Meta users will be able interact with 28 chatbots who play characters portrayed by celebrities. These celebrities have consented to their voices and likenesses being used. Roy Choi, a chef from South Korea, voices Max, a sous-chef who can generate recipes based on a list entered into the system. Snoop Dogg plays a Dungeon master that will guide you through text-based adventures.

Meta announced that the AI assistants and personas will launch in US beta mode on Wednesday. There are plans for several more to follow in the coming weeks, covering a variety of interests including gaming, philosophy, and fashion. Meta’s plans regarding persona-based bots were first reported this summer.

Mark Zuckerberg said at the Meta conference that this wasn’t going to be just about answering questions. This is all about entertainment, and helping you connect with people around you. It’s about helping you achieve the things you want. Facebook’s parent company announced that developers will be able build their own AIs to use on Meta messaging platforms. In the next year, a separate feature will be available to those who do not know how to code. The company is racing to capitalize on the boom of generative AI that has been sweeping the world since Microsoft-backed OpenAI released ChatGPT last November.

Meta has presented the products to fight back after what Zuckerberg called a “year” of efficiency, when it cut down tens and thousands of employees, reduced its real estate footprint, and axed projects that were low priority. Since November 2022, Meta’s stock price has tripled.

Social media company revealed more details about its latest headset – an update to its best-selling Quest 2 – as well. Quest 3’s “mixed reality” combines virtual and augmentative reality. Digital images are superimposed on the real world. It will be available next month at a price of $499.99.

The headset will cost Meta $3,499, while Apple’s Vision Pro headset is expected to launch early next year. Zuckerberg stressed that he had not given up on his metaverse ambitions where people can interact in virtual worlds and environments. In his opening remarks, Zuckerberg said: “I believe that not too long from now you will be able to walk into a space and interact with digital objects as much as you do physical ones.” Meta also hopes to eventually have AI characters such as Max appear as avatars in the metaverse, he added.

He said that the company is rolling out these new features “a little more slowly than what we would normally do” to address any potential issues. This comes amid concerns about privacy and security.

Ray-Ban Meta smartglasses of the next generation were also displayed, and included a new feature that allows live streaming directly to Instagram or Facebook. Meta announced that the glasses would be updated in 2019. They will eventually be able identify buildings and translate signage into different languages.