Photo: dem10 via Getty Images
  /  10.13.2023

In today’s world, building a social media following stands as the ultimate benchmark of achievement. Social media platforms have become the launchpads for businesses, music careers, book sales, and life-altering transformations. Yet, the path to online success isn’t as easy as it seems with the key lying in the ability to cultivate a brand that not only captivates but monetizes.

One of the biggest challenges is fostering a vibrant and engaged community. This entails people who not only actively participate in your content but will back your entrepreneurial pursuits. When you’re just starting with a few hundred followers, managing interactions with your community seems like a breeze. However, as your following grows and you find yourself with hundreds of comments, direct messages, and more, it can pose quite a challenge.

Truth be told, it can become an overwhelming task for a single person, especially when your follower count ascends into the millions. It’s almost as if you need a duplicate version of yourself to keep the community lively and engaged during times when your bandwidth is stretched thin. And this is where Meta has ingeniously stepped in – I’m talking about the new personality AI chatbots.

Chatbots are defined as a subsection of the word bot, “a computer program that performs repetitive tasks,” and their ultimate function is being “designed to converse with human beings.” Per Forbes, they are created utilizing AI technology, and algorithms are employed to build out pre-text and voice conversations between consumers. They are trained, using data, to handle inquiries for the consumer.

The idea of a chatbot was created back in 1950 by Alan Turing when he proposed the Turing Test raising the question, “Can machines think?” The first-known chatbot created in 1966 was called “Eliza.” Its purpose was to engage like a psychotherapist and return consumer utterances in question form. In 1995, “Alice” was created and won a Nobel Peace Prize while being deemed the most human-like computer. The SmarterChild was developed in 2001 and became popular with messenger applications. This led us to modern-day tech such as Siri and Google Assistant.

There are several different classifications of chatbots, one of them being knowledge domain-based, which considers the amount of intelligence a bot can access or was trained on. Another is the service provided, which focuses on the intimate interaction between the user and the task that the chatbot is performing. But the latest personality AI chatbots, released by Meta, are different than any we have ever seen.

Meta has rolled out a brand-new experience that offers one-on-one conversations with an AI assistant. This feature is available on both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. With it, you can do all sorts of things – ask questions, seek recommendations, look up info on the web, or even share a good laugh with a joke.

Now, here’s the twist – Meta has paid celebs to lend their faces and likeness to these AI chatbots. Yep, you read that right. A few big names, including Snoop Dogg, Kendall Jenner, and Tom Brady, are part of the venture. Why implement this new feature? Well, Mark Zuckerberg himself put it perfectly in a recent presentation, noting, “It’s not just about answering questions; it’s all about having some fun and entertainment.”

So, how exactly do they operate? Well, they take on the appearance, voice, and even mannerisms of the celebrities. Next, a distinct profile is created, complete with its name, setting it apart from the famous person it mimics. It’s important to note that the profile is AI-powered — and not the actual celebrity — and the company even rolls out a welcoming video where the chatbot introduces itself.

This new concept did raise some eyebrows among fans. For instance, when they spotted a profile named “Billie” that looked and sounded strikingly like Kendall Jenner, the reactions were quite intriguing. Sopheberry expressed, “This is honestly scary.” Ibcryan shared, “This is 40 years too soon.” And soumyapragyaa chimed in with, “Na, that ain’t AI; that’s Kendall for sure.” Fans have mixed feelings about this cutting-edge feature. However, it’s worth noting that there are some advantages to leveraging AI chatbots.

One significant benefit is the cost-effectiveness. Rather than bringing on a full-time employee or assembling a team to manage the account, AI can step in and perform the tasks, often at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, AI operates around the clock, 24/7, without being bound by time zones. This means it can promptly respond to questions and engage with fans at any hour, eliminating wait times for users seeking platform-related information.

Furthermore, it can be a gold mine for business opportunities, especially for figures like Jenner. This creates a whole new community of individuals eager to connect, particularly when they’re interacting with a near-identical version of her. This innovative approach opens doors to fresh business leads and expanded engagement.

While there are certainly benefits for businesses, I can’t help but notice a few drawbacks, too. Yes, the tech may reduce costs, but this is ultimately a job that won’t go to a person. In the current economic climate, where every gig matters, that raises concerns.

Another perspective concerns the ethical and moral aspects. Who takes responsibility for what these chatbots say? Even if a profile clearly states that it’s powered by AI from Meta, if the technology makes an unconventional statement, it’s Jenner’s face and identity that are linked to it, not Meta’s. This could lead to consumer confusion if an incident were to occur. It’s almost like something out of a science fiction movie where AI chatbots take over real human lives, but I’m not about to hand Jordan Peele any free movie ideas.

Nonetheless, this new experience is only the tip of the iceberg. Shortly, I envision folks using the personalities to replace themselves online and handle tasks they’d rather avoid like Zoom calls, presentations, phone calls, and more. These chatbots could even step in to manage your social media and community engagement around the clock. It’s a fascinating development, and we shall continue with questions about where to draw the line between AI and human interaction as this technology expands.



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