Meta announces new generative interactive AI experiences

September 28, 2023

Mark Zuckerberg announced a range of new generative and interactive AI experiences at Meta’s Connect conference.

The new AI features seem focused on driving engagement on Meta’s WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram platforms. Besides the novelty and entertainment value of some of the new features, the new Meta AI assistant looks like it could be really useful.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of Meta’s new AI features.

Meta AI

Meta AI is an interactive assistant powered by a custom model built on Llama 2. The text-based chatbot can access real-time information by leveraging Meta’s partnership with Bing.

Meta AI Chat assistant

It works much like ChatGPT does but having it integrated into platforms you already use, like WhatsApp, makes it so much more convenient. The real-time internet data access and the fact that it’s free will replace a lot of quick Google or ChatGPT searches.

It’s not truly multi-modal (yet) but it can generate images from text prompts. Meta AI is rolling out in Beta on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. It will also soon be available on Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and the Quest 3 VR headset.

Meta AI Image generator
Meta AI Image generator – Source: Meta

Meta Characters

Meta released 28 AI characters based on influencers and cultural icons like Kendall Jenner, Paris Hilton, and Tom Brady. Users can message the character with the interactions feeling like they’re interacting with the personality behind the name.

You could ask Angie, based on Raven Ross, for tips on your Pilates workout. Or you could chat with Max, based on celebrity chef Roy Choi, for tips for your dinner party.

Does the thought of engaging with an AI Paris Hilton make you want to sign up for the Beta or uninstall all of Meta’s apps in case it becomes a standard feature?

With the appeal that AI friends seem to have these characters may actually hang around longer than users on Threads.

Meta's Characters
Meta’s Characters – Source: Meta

Stickers and image editing

Meta announced some more generative features for its apps. Do you send stickers when chatting with friends on Meta’s apps? Now you don’t need to pick them from a library because you can have an AI generate them for you.

You’ll soon be able to edit your Instagram photos with the Restyle and Backdrop features. Restyle allows you to use a text prompt like “retro” or “watercolor” to define a filter for the image.

Backdrop uses Meta’s clever cutout AI to isolate a subject and change the scene or background of the image.

The image generation features are based on a combination of Llama 2 and Meta’s new image model called Emu.

Meta says that images edited with these features will be identifiable as AI-edited without explaining exactly how that will be done. The release just says that the company is experimenting with “visible and invisible markers.”

Meta AI - Image generation and chat assistant
Meta Stickers – Source: Meta

AI Studio

Meta’s AI Studio is a platform that will allow users to build their own third-party AIs to run on Messenger and eventually on WhatsApp too.

The idea is that you could have a chatbot interact with your customers in a way that better reflects the values and voice of your brand. Meta’s characters that we mentioned earlier are good examples of the kind of nuance you could achieve with AI Studio.

The broad adoption of Meta’s apps gives it a big advantage over companies like OpenAI when it comes to introducing new AI tools. Not having to install a new app to try a feature is a big deal.

X has a similar audience advantage so it will be interesting to see how it eventually deploys its AI features. We can only hope that Elon Musk is more discerning when choosing characters to base the chatbots on.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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