Facebook parent Meta is charging full speed ahead into artificial intelligence in hopes of reviving user counts and revenue growth. With rivals like TikTok chipping away at its dominance, Meta is preparing to unleash a slew of AI-powered features across its apps.
According to the Financial Times, Meta plans to introduce AI chatbots on Facebook and Instagram as early as September. These virtual assistants will showcase unique personalities to engage users in more natural conversations.
Meta is developing prototypes like an Abraham Lincoln bot that dishes advice in the former U.S. president’s iconic eloquent style, and a surfer dude bot that responds with chill vibes and gives travel advice, according to FT sources. The AI chatbots will provide improved search and content recommendations to boost engagement and user time spent. They will also allow brands and businesses to interact with customers in new ways.
The bots will start as limited pilots, according to the report, but Meta aims to eventually roll them out more broadly if they prove successful.
Meanwhile, leaked screenshots reveal that Meta’s Instagram is working on multiple AI-powered editing tools to help users enhance photos. One rumored feature is an digital paintbrush that could allow users to edit images by adding or removing objects after capture. Another is a “restyle” tool that would transform photos to match any visual style.
AI Brush: add or replace specific parts of your image
Restyle: Reimagine this image by applying any visual style you can describe pic.twitter.com/oeRUwMVwdz
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) July 29, 2023
Instagram is also believed to be building an AI feature to distinguish between, and label, computer-generated images versus real pictures. This could curb the spread of misinformation and ease concerns about ultra-realistic fake imagery.
In addition, Instagram is exploring AI-generated captions that automatically describe photos to aid accessibility, and AI-sorted folders that organize images by people or topics.
Constant testing of such new features suggests Meta is in a rush to infuse AI throughout Instagram’s core functionality.
Further, visual AI initiatives will build on Meta’s push into natural language processing. In July, the company (kind of) open-sourced its LLaMA 2 language model to outside developers. Rumors suggest Meta will also launch a commercial version to take on ChatGPT.
Meta’s intensified focus on AI comes after lackluster enthusiasm for its once dominant metaverse vision. The company’s stock price plummeted over 55% last year amid waning Facebook growth.
In 2023, however, Meta’s stock has rebounded over 160%—likely buoyed by its public pivot into generative AI.
Meta remains a formidable force in AI research, with over 690 contributions to Hugging Face, the largest open-source AI community right now. It also developed the CM3leon model, considered the cutting edge for generating images from text prompts.
As Elon Musk pushes Twitter toward an “everything app” strategy, Meta could be morphing its apps into “everything AI” platforms. The company can turn to its troves of user data to provide the fuel to keep pace with Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI in the AI arms race.
Only time will tell if virtual buddies in the metaverse and AI-powered photo editors and interpreters are enough to reinvigorate genuine human interest in Meta’s platforms. But the company is clearly hoping AI is its savior from stagnation.