In the last week of September, Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced 28 AI chatbots that are virtual lookalikes of celebrities like Kendal Jenner, Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Tom Brady, Charli D’Amelio, and many others.
Just like the real personalities, these AI celebrities’ likenesses also have active Facebook and Instagram profiles where any user can interact with them. Meta is spending a huge amount of money on this project, but the real question is ‘why?’
Interestingly, many of these celebrities are already active on Meta’s platforms and engage a lot of users. For instance, Kendall Jenner’s original Instagram profile has 294 million followers, and she posts regularly there.
So then why is Meta launching AI avatars of these celebrities, and paying for them from his own pocket (basically from his company’s pocket)?
Meta is pouring crazy amounts of money on celebrity AIs
It looks like Meta wants to use the AI assistants to keep users hooked to their messaging apps and also to discourage them from migrating to rival platforms such as TikTok.
This seems to be the most plausible reason, but the true intentions of the company behind this move remain unknown. But what are the celebrities getting out of it? Why would they help a tech company in capturing people’s attention using their AI avatars?
Well, why wouldn’t they — Meta has agreed to write million-dollar cheques to them over the next two years, all in return for just a few hours of studio work. In fact, one of them (nobody knows who) has managed to sign a whopping five million dollar deal with the company just for this.
Zuckerberg has not revealed why he is spending so much money on this project. However, while presenting the chatbots during the Connect 2023 event, he said:
“Advances in AI allow us to create different AI personas to help us get different things done. This isn’t just going to be about answering queries. This is about entertainment and about helping you do things to connect with the people around you.”
This is definitely about more than just the “entertainment” and “helping.” It’s about business.
Meta has a history of aggressively driving off its competition and doing everything in their power to grab people’s attention.
For instance, when they released features like Facebook Stories and Instagram Reels. They were accused of copying their competitors as these features closely resembled Snapchat’s Stories and TikTok videos.
They recently launched a new platform Threads which is also very similar to X (previously called Twitter), and now, they have employed AI chatbots that look like real celebrities.
Each celebrity AI chatbot has a different role
Currently, all the celebrity AI bots interact with the users via text messages. They can’t speak but they are likely to in the future because the announcement video released along with them shows these bots talking like their real-life versions.
Also, they are given different names and roles. Here are just some of them:
- AI Snoop Dogg is named Dungeon Master and it will encourage users to play games available on Meta’s platforms.
- Tom Brady’s AI doppelganger is called Bru and he discusses sports with users.
- Billie, the Kendall Jenner-faced AI chatbot is available to advise people on anything they want to talk about.
- Naomi Osaka is Tamika, Anime-obsessed Sailor Senshi in training that wants to talk about cosplay and anime.
“Chatting with me is like having an older sister you can talk to, but who can’t steal your clothes,” Billie said in an Instagram post.
While Meta signed lucrative contracts with the celebrities, it also released a chatbot that looks somewhat similar to Jane Austen (who passed away in 1817), a renowned author and writer of the classic Pride and Prejudice.
For now, it’s too early to say whether or not these bots will be a success. The Billie AI has 171,000 followers, which is pretty notable, but the avatar of Mr. Beast has only garnered 13,300 followers. But Facebook’s plan doesn’t seem to have been that well thought out, at least in some regards.
The accounts are already overrun with spam. There’s a distinct irony in having state-of-the-art AI chatbots and not even bothering to clear them from spam. Sometimes, it’s comments from people advertising some random, irrelevant service. Other times, it’s just comments like this.
These chatbots also reveal a new way in which AI could transform social media in the coming years. We may see the rise of super-intelligent AI bots on these platforms interacting with other AIs and forming their own AI communities. But for now, one thing’s for sure, AI is making everything much weirder.
The emergence of celebrity AI chatbots is a mirror reflecting our evolving relationship with the digital realm. While these chatbots present a novel way to engage, they also challenge us to reconsider the nature of authenticity and connection in a digital age. How we choose to interact with, utilize, and respond to these advancements will determine the future of our digital experiences. In the end, it’s not just about how technology is changing our world, but how we choose to engage with it.