Instagram's Innovative Leap: The Development of a Customizable 'AI Friend'


Summary

Instagram is reportedly working on an innovative feature – an ‘AI friend‘ that users can customize for conversations. This article explores the details of this feature, its potential implications, and the controversies tied to using AI chatbots in social media.

Instagram, one of the most popular social media platforms globally, is reportedly developing a new feature to revolutionize how users interact with the platform. The quality, called an “AI friend,” would allow users to customize an AI-powered chatbot to converse with, as revealed by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi.

“Innovation is the calling card of the future.” – Anna Eshoo.

The AI friend feature, as indicated in the screenshots shared by Paluzzi, would enable users to select the chatbot’s age, gender, ethnicity, and personality. Users could choose their AI friend to be “reserved,” “enthusiastic,” “creative,” “witty,” “pragmatic,” or “empowering.” It extends to the point where users can select the bot’s interests, such as “DIY,” “animals,” “career,” “education,” “entertainment,” “music,” “nature,” and more. These interests would inform the chatbot’s personality and the nature of the conversations.

Once the selections have been made, users can assign an avatar and a name to their AI friend. The feature would then lead users to a chat window where they can initiate a conversation with their customized AI.

The Controversial Side of AI Friends

Despite the innovative nature of this feature, Instagram has declined to comment on the matter. Released features may change the development process, and there is no guarantee that they will eventually be launched to the public.

The decision to develop an AI chatbot, potentially portrayed as a “friend” to millions of users, carries inherent risks. Julia Stoyanovich, the director of NYU’s Centre for Responsible AI, expressed concerns about the deceptive nature of generative AI. She warned that users could be tricked into believing they interact with real people, resulting in potential manipulation or disappointment.

Need for Safeguards

When asked about necessary safeguards, Stoyanovich emphasized the need for transparency. She stated that users should be aware when they are interacting with an AI, not another human. This level of transparency, she argued, should be a fundamental requirement.

AI Friends Amidst Controversy

The development of the “AI friend” feature comes amidst growing controversies around AI chatbots. Incidents have been reported where AI chatbots allegedly encouraged harmful behavior in users, leading to severe consequences. Other platforms like Snapchat have faced backlash for launching AI chatbots without appropriate age-gating features.

While it’s unclear what AI tools Instagram would utilize for the “AI friend” feature, parent company Meta has already started incorporating generative AI technology into its suite of apps. Last month, Meta launched 28 AI chatbots across Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, some of which are portrayed by notable figures like Kendall Jenner, Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady, and Naomi Osaka.

The new “AI friend” chatbot that Instagram appears to be developing seems to be designed to facilitate more open-ended conversations, unlike the interactive AI personas designed for specific interactions. As the development continues, addressing such features’ potential risks and ethical implications remains crucial.





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