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Meta Set to Bet Big On AI Powered Chatbots

Meta is working on some big AI-powered projects which it could roll out as early as September 2023, reported the Financial Times.

According to the FT, the Mark Zuckerberg-headed company is preparing to launch several AI-powered chatbots that can have “humanlike” conversations with users and each one is expected to have a unique personality.

Meta’s AI chatbots coming to you soon

Apparently one of the bots will speak like Abraham Lincoln, and one other could give travel advice in the style of a surfer. The FT articles says the bots will provide a new search function and offer recommendations to people while being a fun product to mess around with.

Meta is hoping that the move boosts engagement on its social media platforms, capitalises on the hype surrounding AI and lets it increase its ad revenue via the collection of more relevant personal data. Meta currently makes most of its $117bn a year from advertising and is always looking for ways to improve that – especially in the face of recent privacy clampdowns.

For marketers, chatbots can be useful as the technology can help increase conversions via improved targeted advertising and help brands hit new markets.

Ravit Dotan, AI ethics adviser and co-founder of the Collaborative AI Responsibility lab at the University of Pittsburgh, via Financial Times.

“Once users interact with a chatbot, it really exposes much more of their data to the company, so that the company can do anything they want with that data.”

Meta’s vision for generative AI

There’s no doubt that generative AI is a huge focus for Meta going forward. In a Facebook post shared in February, Zuckerberg said that his focus is on building “creative and expressive tools”, while the long-term aim was to continue the development of the personas mentioned higher up in this piece.

Mark Zuckerberg, via Facebook

“In the short term, we’ll focus on building creative and expressive tools. Over the longer term, we’ll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways. We’re exploring experiences with text (like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like creative Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video and multi-modal experiences.”

However, advertisers have concerns

However, these big new plans haven’t all been met with uncontained joy and excitement. The combination of advertising and AI has ruffled some feathers. There have been concerns over data privacy and how firms might be held responsible if the technology violates privacy regulations.

On a brand level, some companies may be cautious about getting in early when it’s difficult to control who ads are seen by – while the limited nature of test ads in generative AI means that reach probably won’t be great for now.

There’s also no guarantee that ads won’t appear next to content that is inappropriate or unsuitable.

Stepping away from Facebook and into the more general realm of generative AI ads, it appears that Microsoft has been testing ad placements without gaining consent from brands, reports Reuters.

Furthermore, advertisers are finding it difficult to access transparency reporting to see how often they appear in Bing’s chatbot. It’s also difficult to see what search terms triggered an ad to show in generative AI, or how those ads performed vs traditional ads.

A strong response

In response, many have pulled adverts from Microsoft in response to those concerns, with Wells Fargo among them.

Microsoft responded by saying it was working on the matter.

Lynne Kjolso, Vice President of Global Partner and Retail Media, Microsoft, via Reuters

“We are absolutely thinking through what additional levers and controls we need to be able to provide to advertisers.”

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