Snapchat has become the first social media giant to embed a ChatGPT-based chatbot into its app, with the messaging platform calling its new feature “My AI.”
According to Snap, the new chatbot runs on the latest version of OpenAI’s GPT technology (its model GPT-3.5) and is an “experimental feature” for paying Snapchat Plus subscribers (a service that costs $3.99 / £3.99 / AU$5.99 a month ).
So what can it do? Given the many recent examples of Microsoft’s ChatGPT-based Bing search engine crashing, Snap wisely put some barriers in place by training it to “avoid biased, incorrect, harmful or misleading information.” It is also mainly designed to organize your social life and improve the Snapchat game.
Some examples of things my AI can help with include planning a hiking trip, recommending ideas for birthday gifts, suggesting recipes for dinner, and, for fans of Japanese poems, “writing a cheese haiku for your cheddar-obsessed friend.” This all certainly sounds a bit more family than watching Bing go through an existential crisis.
Still, Snap also prepares for mistakes and has he apologized in advance (opens in a new tab) for your own My AI clangers. He says that “My AI is prone to hallucinations and can be tricked into saying almost anything,” which sounds disturbing. Snap also tells users to “be aware of many omissions and apologize in advance” for potential errors.
Unlike the ChatGPT-based Bing chatbot, My AI is customizable – you can give it a name and also customize the wallpaper for your chat sessions. But despite that cozy exterior, the AI helper is likely to go horribly wrong – Snap claims you can press and hold on any message to submit feedback and help steer it towards better behavior.
Analysis: A foretaste of future social chatbots
The appearance of a ChatGPT-based helper on Snapchat isn’t as jarring as an equivalent feature on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or TikTok – after all, Snapchat is just tenth place on the list of social networking sites (opens in a new tab) in terms of global active users.
But it does give us an interesting insight into how ChatGPT (or equivalent chatbot technology) could be baked into some of the world’s most popular apps. Imagine, for example, an equal helper in Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp groups. Meta did recently announced (opens in a new tab) own “state-of-the-art large AI language model called LLaMA” so it may be coming.
The emergence of chatbots on social media and messaging apps also raises privacy issues. Snap would like to emphasize that “all conversations with my AI will be stored and may be reviewed to improve the product experience” and you should not “share any secrets with my AI” or “rely on its advice.”
These are all big caveats that show where we are with AI chatbots – while they’re fun sidekicks that can work well on apps like Snapchat, they’re also far from the all-knowing sages they claim to be.