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Meta is preparing to unleash a small army of talkative AI chatbots onto Facebook and Instagram in a bid to attract younger users, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. The chatbots will reportedly embody various “personas,” ranging from sassy shit-talkers to extraterrestrial aliens. But back-talking language models are just the start. Eventually, Meta reportedly wants to release a tool that lets celebrities and creators develop their own AI doppelgangers to interact with fans and followers.
One of these “Gen AI Personas” as they are reportedly referred to internally, is a sassy AI agent called “Bob the robot.” Bob will reportedly use its “sharp wit and biting sarcasm” to try to convince the kids to stick around on Meta’s increasingly aged social media platforms. Here’s a taste of what the Bob bot could sound like when you ask it a question.
“Bring me your questions, but don’t expect any sugar-coated responses!” Hilarious!
If Bob sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because he’s reportedly inspired by Bender, the beer-chugging alcoholic robot sidekick from Futurama. A sexist, rage-filled trash can might not seem like a clear choice to drive engagement, but one Meta employee cited by the Journal argues Bob’s “farcical” Bender style humor “is resonating with young people.”
Sassy Bob has already managed to rustle some feathers within Meta. One employee who reportedly tested Bob out didn’t understand its demeanor and thought it was simply rude and not useful. Bob, and other AI chatbots could get officially announced as early as this week during Meta’s Connect conference.
“I don’t particularly feel like engaging in conversation with an unhelpful robot,” the employee said, according to the Journal. Meta did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Bob isn’t the only AI persona in the works, per the report. Internal documents obtained by the Journal also described an extra-terrestrial-themed chatbot called “Alvin the Alien” that asks humans to “share your experiences, thoughts, and emotions” and another called “Gavin” who reportedly trash-talked Mark Zuckerberg and made a sexist remark. One employee reportedly worries users may believe Alvin, the inquisitive alien, is actually a ploy to harvest users’ personal information.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of personality-driven chatbots coming to Meta products. Last month, anonymous sources speaking with the Financial Times claimed the company was working on a variety of personas based on real-world political figures, including one meant to impersonate former president Abraham Lincoln. Character.AI, another company working with text-based large language models, led the charge in this area earlier this year by releasing chatbots that role-played as famous personalities like Elon Musk and Mario. These silly AI companions are reportedly of particular interest to Zuckerberg, who is reportedly “spending all his energy and time ideating about” them.