Instagram is reportedly working on a feature that would allow users to customize the AI ”friends” they can talk to. Meta was already known to focus on various AI technologies, but this is the latest hint at something more specific.
A potential improvement to the “AI Friend” feature was revealed by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, who found references to it in the app’s code. However, Instagram declined to comment on it. The company is known to be working on various features that have not been released in the public version of the platform.
What We Know About the Feature So Far
I Screenshots shared by Paluzzi it seems to show that users can customize their AI friends based on a variety of factors, including their age, gender, and ethnicity. They can even choose AI personalities for various traits, such as enthusiasm, intelligence, creativity, and more.
Finally, users will be required to give their AI friend a name and face, after which they can chat with each other via the direct message feature on Instagram.
For now, the only purpose of this tool seems to be providing people with an AI companion to help them overcome boredom and loneliness.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly stated that his company is working on a variety of AI for various purposes. He also added that AI features will be accessible through chat conversations, which is consistent with Paluzzi’s findings.
Future uses of the conversational AI features that Meta is developing may include allowing people to chat with AI versions of celebrities or businesses.
For example, businesses can create customized chatbots to answer their customers’ questions and refunds. Creators may be able to come up with AI systems that mimic their personalities, allowing fans to interact with them.
Apart from Instagram, such messaging-based AI chatbots are being developed by other Meta platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Last month, the company released chatbots based on a variety of people, including celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Snoop Dogg.
“There’s going to be a lot of use cases that I think are just great,” Zuckerberg said.
He also added that instead of building a single “super intelligence”, Meta is more focused on creating multiple AI programs that users can talk to in different situations.
Currently, it is not clear 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 will come to the public version of Instagram at all.
Potential Challenges Associated with AI Companions
AI companions are not exactly a new concept – many companies have been coming up with purpose-built AI systems. The most important development in this regard includes the introduction of the My AI chatbot on Snapchat, which paying users can access through the platform’s instant messaging feature. Apart from being an AI companion, my AI can also provide assistance in choosing places to visit and which lenses to use.
However, while the concept may sound exciting, there are potential risks associated with such AI partners. Snapchat’s My AI faced a huge backlash shortly after it was launched for allegedly giving advice to children on inappropriate topics.