Meta Brings Chatbots, Image Editing to Social Media Apps

Meta Platforms Inc. is introducing artificial intelligence features to its apps that will give the company’s 3 billion users an experience akin to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

(Bloomberg) — Meta Platforms Inc. is introducing artificial intelligence features to its apps that will give the company’s 3 billion users an experience akin to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Customized sticker creation, image editing and a slew of celebrity-faced chatbot characters – all infused with generative AI – are coming to Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, the company said Wednesday at its annual Connect developers conference. Meta also introduced a developer studio for brands to build their own AI tools for the company’s messaging services that can be used to chat with customers.

“Advances in AI allow us to create different AI personas to help us get different things done.” Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said during his keynote speech. “Our view is that people are going to want to interact with a bunch of different AIs for the different things that you want to do.”

It’s a critical announcement for Meta, demonstrating that it, too, can build AI-based technology that generates text and images based on simple prompts from users. Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Snap Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have already introduced various tools to capitalize on the public and investor interest in the nascent technology. Meta has been investing at record levels to build AI infrastructure behind the scenes, while Zuckerberg teased many of these consumer-facing ideas to try to make the case that the company is also a competitor in the AI race.

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In recent earnings calls, the CEO has emphasized that the social media company has been working on AI technology for years, though this is the first time generative AI-focused consumer services have been the center of Meta’s annual event. In the past, Connect has been focused on the metaverse, the name for a virtual online world from which Zuckerberg derived the new name of his company.

Last year, viewers with an Oculus headset could watch the keynote speeches in the company’s virtual reality space, Horizon Worlds — a potentially harrowing experience for first-time users. Most of the event was spent pitching Oculus for use in business settings, conducting virtual meetings, or as a platform for gaming. AI was only mentioned in the context of using the technology to create redesigned avatars for headset users and Zuckerberg’s announcement that those figures will get legs – limbs that were only recently added for users.

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The AI tools introduced Wednesday will look more familiar to those who have been quick to try generative AI features like Snap’s My AI chatbot or selfie maker, and Adobe Inc.’s Firefly image-editing product.

Meta AI is the tech giant’s new text-based chatbot, which will run on its large language model, Llama 2, and use search information in partnership with Microsoft’s Bing. The company frames it as a digital assistant, which can answer questions about real-time information or be used to generate images.

The company is also rolling out 28 fantasy character-based bots that feature video reactions from the faces of known celebrities such as retired Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, whose bot debates about sports, and musician Snoop Dogg as a Dungeon Master adventure leader. These bots, which aren’t yet live, will be limited to the topics they’re meant to talk about and will reflect pre-2023 information, the company said.

Meta’s AI image editor, which is also not live yet, will allow users to enter text prompts to change existing images, such as applying a visual style or revising background. After any changes are made, the use of AI will be indicated.

Also Wednesday, the company officially unveiled the Quest 3 headset, the latest version of the device that will let users transition between VR and mixed reality.

(Updates with comments from CEO in the third paragraph.)

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