May 28, 2024

Instagram Developing a Customizable “AI Friend” Feature

Instagram is reportedly working on a feature that would allow users to create customizable AI “friends” who they can talk to. Meta was already known to be focusing on various AI technologies, but this is the latest hint of something specific.

The potential development of the “AI Friend” feature was revealed by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, who discovered references to it in the app’s code. However, Instagram has refused to comment on it. The company is known to work on various features that aren’t actually rolled out on the public version of the platform.

What We Know About the Feature So Far

The screenshots shared by Paluzzi seem to indicate that users can customize their AI friends in a variety of ways, including their age, sex, and ethnicity. They can even choose the AI’s personality from various characteristics, such as enthusiastic, witty, creative, and more.

Ultimately, users would be required to give their AI friend a name and a face, after which they can chat with each other through the direct message feature on Instagram.

For now, the only purpose of the tool appears to be providing people with an AI companion to help them overcome boredom and loneliness.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already stated publicly that his company is working on a variety of AIs for various purposes. He also added that the AI features will be accessible via chat conversations, which lines up with Paluzzi’s findings.

Future uses of the AI chatbot features being developed by Meta may potentially include allowing people to chat with AI versions of celebrities or businesses.

For instance, businesses can build customized chatbots to respond to their customers regarding queries and refunds. Creators might be able to come up with AI systems mimicking their personalities, allowing fans to chat with them.

Besides Instagram, such instant messaging-based AI chatbots are also being developed for other Meta platforms like Messenger and WhatsApp. Last month, the company released chatbots based on various personalities, including celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Snoop Dogg.

“There are going to be a bunch of use cases that I think are just fun”, Zuckerberg said.

He also went on to add that rather than building a single “big super intelligence”, Meta is more focused on creating multiple AI systems that users can talk to in different contexts.

As of now, it is unclear which AI tools will be powering the AI Friend feature on Instagram. Nothing is known about the tentative launch date of the feature or if it would even make it to the public version of Instagram at all.

Potential Challenges Associated With AI Companions

AI friends aren’t exactly a new concept – a number of companies have been coming up with AI systems designed for the purpose. The most important developments in this regard include the launch of the My AI chatbot on Snapchat, which paying users can access through the platform’s instant messaging feature. Besides being an AI friend, My AI can also offer help with choosing places to visit and which lenses to use.

However, while the concept might sound fun, there are potential dangers associated with such AI companions. Snapchat’s My AI faced a major backlash soon after its launch for allegedly advising minors on inappropriate topics.


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