Snap is giving its “My AI” chatbot to all of Snapchat’s 750 million monthly users for free. This comes less than two months after the OpenAI-powered bot was first made available to the app’s more than 3 million paid members.
My AI is becoming a bigger part of Snapchat as well. It can now be added to group chats by using the @ sign, and Snap will let people change the look and name of their bot with a custom Bitmoji avatar.
Also, My AI can now suggest AR filters for Snapchat’s camera or places to visit from the map tab of the app. Snap also wants to make it possible for people to send My AI visual messages and get automated replies. An example shown today at the company’s annual conference was a picture of tomatoes in a garden, which made the bot send back a picture of gazpacho soup.
Microsoft and Google are racing to add generative AI to their search engines, but Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snap, thinks that the technology is “an awesome creative tool.” During a recent interview, he talked about how he uses My AI to tell his kids bedtime stories and plan his wife Miranda Kerr’s birthday. He says that My AI is already used for more than 2 million chats every day.
Spiegel says of generative AI bots, “Just based on how they work, I think they’re much better at creative tasks.” “And some of the things that make them so creative also make it hard for them to remember specific details.”
He calls the relationship between Snap and OpenAI, which is building My AI’s core big language model, a “close partnership.”
It’s clear that Spiegel cares deeply about the project and sees My AI as a key part of Snap’s future. He wouldn’t say how much it costs to run the robot, but I’ve heard that Snap was surprised at how cheap it was to run on a large scale.
Spiegel also won’t say anything about how My AI might affect Snap’s advertising business, which has had a hard time growing. He agrees that using My AI’s interactions to target ads could be a chance, but he doesn’t go into more detail, hinting that things could change in the near future.
When My AI was first made available to people who paid for Snapchat Plus, it didn’t take long for it to act up. For example, the Center for Humane Technology shared an example of My AI teaching a 13-year-old girl how to set the mood for sex with a 31-year-old.
Snap added more safety features to My AI in response, like using a user’s self-reported age in Snapchat to guide how the bot answers to questions.
Spiegel says that even though there have already been some bad interactions with My AI, the vast percentage of interactions have been good. “We had a lot of faith in the service because, as we watched how people used it, we saw that 99.5 percent of My AI answers were in line with our community rules,” he says.
In the AI business, there is a big debate about whether chatbots should have human-like personalities. Spiegel says that one of the most common requests from early users was to be able to change My AI’s name and change how it looks. “That just shows how much people want to put their own spin on things and make them feel like their own.”
Concerns about the potential harm of generative AI as a whole are not shared by Spiegel, who says, “When I compare this to almost any other technology invented in the last 20 years, it’d be hard to name one where people have been more careful about how it’s being used and rolled out.”