The ‘My AI’ bot will initially only be available to paying Snapchat Plus subscribers. CEO Evan Spiegel says it’s just the beginning of the company’s generative AI plans.
Snapchat is introducing a chatbot powered by the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. According to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, it’s a bet that AI chatbots will increasingly become a part of everyday life for more people.
Named “My AI,” Snapchat’s bot will be pinned to the app’s chat tab above conversations with friends. While initially only available for $3.99 a month to Snapchat Plus subscribers, the goal is to eventually make the bot available to all of Snapchat’s 750 million monthly users, says Spiegel.
“The big idea is that in addition to talking to our friends and family every day, we’re going to talk to AI every day,” he says. “And we’re well positioned to do this as a messaging service.”
At launch, My AI is essentially just a fast mobile-friendly version of ChatGPT inside Snapchat. The main difference is that Snap’s version is more restricted in what it can answer. Snap’s employees have trained it to adhere to the company’s trust and safety guidelines and not give responses that include swearing, violence, sexually explicit content, or opinions about dicey topics like politics.
While ChatGPT has quickly become a productivity tool, Snap’s implementation treats generative AI more like a persona. My AI’s profile page looks like any other Snapchat user’s profile, albeit with its own alien Bitmoji. The design suggests that My AI is meant to be another friend inside of Snapchat for you to hang out with, not a search engine.
That distinction could save Snap some headaches. As Bing’s implementation of OpenAI’s tech has shown, the large language models (LLMs) underpinning these chatbots can confidently give wrong answers, or hallucinations, that are problematic in the context of search. If toyed with enough, they can even be emotionally manipulative and downright mean. It’s a dynamic that has, at least so far, kept larger players in the space — namely Google and Meta — from releasing competing products to the public.
Snap is in a different place. It has a deceivingly large and young user base, but its business is struggling. My AI will likely be a boost to the company’s paid subscriber numbers in the short term, and eventually, it could open up new ways for the company to make money, though Spiegel is cagey about his plans.
Snap is one of the first clients of OpenAI’s new enterprise tier called Foundry, which lets companies run its latest GPT-3.5 model with dedicated compute designed for large workloads. Spiegel says Snap will likely incorporate LLMs from other vendors besides OpenAI over time and that it will use the data gathered from the chatbot to inform its broader AI efforts. While My AI is basic to start, it’s the beginning of what Spiegel sees as a major investment area for Snap and, more importantly, a future in which we’re all talking to AI like it’s a person.