It is just the latest hint that Meta is working on a variety of artificial intelligence tools to allow people to have conversations. Future uses might include letting people talk to AI versions of celebrities or with businesses, for instance.
But the new tool seems specifically aimed at allowing people to overcome boredom or loneliness by letting people choose their AI friend’s personality and then have conversations with them.
That’s according to app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi who found references to the new feature within the app. Instagram has declined to comment – and the company works on a range of features that never actually arrive within the public version of the app.
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) October 30, 2023
The code appears to suggest that people would choose their AI’s gender, age and ethnicity. They would then pick a personality from a range of characteristics, such as enthusiastic or witty.
The AI friend would then get a name and a face and users could chat with them through Instagram’s direct messages feature.
Similar tools are under way for other Meta platforms, such as WhatsApp and Messenger. And other apps such as Snapchat have worked on their own AI chatbots that can be messaged in the same way as normal friends.
Last month, Meta launched chatbots with a host of personalities. Celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Kendall Jenner leant their likeness to chatbots that can be conversed with over different Meta messaging platforms.
Mark Zuckerberg has publicly said that Meta is working on a host of different AIs, pointed at different purposes, that will be available inside chat conversations. He said recently that the company doesn’t “think we necessarily want there to be one big super intelligence” and instead would build different artificial intelligence systems that can be spoken to in different contexts.
Some of those might be built for businesses, for instance, so that an AI can chat with people about issues such as refunds, or that creators could build artificially intelligent systems that mimic their personality so that fans can chat to them. But others might just be for speaking to as friends, he said.
“there are going to be a bunch of use cases that I think are just fun,” he said during a podcast with Lex Fridman. “I think there will be AIs that I can tell jokes, so you can put them into chat thread with friends. I think a lot of this, because we’re like a social company.
“I mean we’re fundamentally around helping people connect in different ways. Part of what I’m excited about is how do you enable these kind of AIs to facilitate connection between two people or more, put them in a group chat, make the group chat more interesting around whatever your interests are, sports, fashion, trivia.”