Instagram is taking a massive leap into AI — here's what it means for you

Meta AI virtual assistant on Instagram
(Image credit: Meta)

Instagram has been hard at work on a new tool that will let users create an artificial friend. The “Create an AI” feature has yet to launch but was uncovered recently by leaker Alessandro Paluzzi and shared on X. It will be accessible through the messaging section.

This builds on the image-sharing platform’s recently launched chatbots built to mirror the public persona of different celebrities. With these bots, familiar faces like Kendall Jenner, Tom Brady and Charli D’Amelio lend their personality and allow users to interact with their AI doppelganger. 

It is part of a wider move announced by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in September to capitalize on the firm's extensive AI research and development, including building on top of its own open-source Llama 2 large language model  —  similar to GPT-4 from OpenAI, Claude 2 from Anthropic and PaLM 2 from Google.

How it will work

According to the screenshots shared by Paluzzi, users would be able to hold a conversation with the chatbot and it will be able to “answer questions, talk through any challenges, brainstorm ideas and much more.” This is similar to the AI chatbot built into Snapchat and Microsoft’s Bing.

Unlike Snap’s GPT-4-based bot, these new AI friends are completely customizable, down to determining both nationality and personality type. Users can select from a reserved, enthusiastic, creative, witty, pragmatic or empowering personality for their virtual buddy.

It is also possible to set interests for the AI friend to help steer the conversation, setting it up to enjoy things like DIY, animals, career, education, music and nature among others.

How it compares

Instagram hasn’t commented on the leak and it is still an unreleased feature. So it's unclear when it will be made public. However, it does mirror an announcement made by Meta back in September. As well as other AI features like stickers, backgrounds for calls and AI editing tools, Zuckerberg confirmed the company had 28 AIs in beta for both celebrities and users.

At the time he also confirmed an AI sandbox was in development to let anyone experiment with building their own AI assistants. This tool would also be added to its metaverse products to allow the AI to be trained and adopt to a greater level of realism and connectedness.

While the Tom Brady and Snoop Dogg chatbots have been restricted to specific topics, pre-approved by their namesakes, these new virtual friends would be much broader, able to potentially delve into some complex topics. What isn’t clear is whether the final version, if it is launched, will include age-gating. Failing to add this drew criticism for Snapchat with its MyAI.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?