Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Meta AI personas might be the most important ChatGPT rival yet, and you should be worried

Published Aug 1st, 2023 10:24AM EDT
Threads web app
Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

ChatGPT continues to be the main generative AI product, even though alternatives exist. Google has Bard, and it’s experimenting with an AI search engine as well as an AI Google Assistant for smartphones. Microsoft’s Bing Chat incorporates the ChatGPT tech, and the company is working on Copilot for Windows 11. Then there’s the secretive Apple GPT that may or may not be used in future apps and products. But the most important one may be Meta’s nameless ChatGPT rival referred to as AI personas, which might show up on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp soon.

If Meta releases its generative AI product(s) soon, it might deliver the most significant alternative to ChatGPT. That’s because Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp have billions of users. That’s an exciting development if you appreciate generative AI products. But since it’s Meta deploying an AI product inside social networks, you should also be worried about the additional tracking these chatbots will utilize.

Per The Financial Times (via The Verge), Meta plans to offer AI characters inside its social networks. These AI products will be known as “personas,” as they can act in specific ways when interacting with users in apps like Facebook and Instagram.

The report details examples of these AI personalities. One might sound like a surfer when offering travel recommendations. Another might sound like Abraham Lincoln because, well, AI can do that.

It’s unclear what specific features the AI will offer, but Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned his interest in AI personas earlier this year. In February, he announced a new group inside Meta focused on AI.

“In the short term, we’ll focus on building creative and expressive tools,” Zuckerberg said. “Over the longer term, we’ll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways. We’re exploring experiences with text (like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like creative Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video and multi-modal experiences.”

By June, Meta made some progress, with app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi having discovered a “Chat with AI” feature inside Instagram that had access to 30 personalities. Zuckerberg further teased Meta’s AI innovations during the company’s June 2023 earnings call. He said Meta will reveal more detail later this year and reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the Metaverse, with AI playing a role in it.

That might sound exciting to some Meta customers. Meta’s generative AI could prove to be a great rival to ChatGPT, which can lead to more innovation in the AI space. Billions of people would have access to generative AI experiences without having to create a ChatGPT account or install OpenAI’s app. Similarly, they wouldn’t need Bing Chat or Google Bard.

For many people, Meta’s AI personas could become their first (and only?) generative AI experiences.

But The Financial Times expresses the worry many people might have when dealing with Meta’s AI. The chatbots might provide Meta with even more data points about a user’s interests. And this could lead to even more extensive user tracking and ad targeting.

That said, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how Meta addresses user privacy when it comes to its generative AI products. It’s unclear when Meta will launch these AI personas, but the Connect developer event next month might be a good place to start.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.