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Snap unveils My AI, a new chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT tech

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By Webb Wright | NY reporter

February 27, 2023 | 5 min read

The tech and social media brand has become the latest to capitalize on the “generative AI” craze.

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Snapchat’s new AI-powered chat feature, My AI, is now available for Snapchat+ subscribers. / Snap

Snap announced this morning that it’s launching a new AI-powered chatbot, called My AI, on Snapchat. The feature is now available in Snapchat+, a subscription-based service (costing $3.99 per month) within Snapchat, which provides members with access to “a collection of exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features,” according to a company blog post published last year.

My AI leverages GPT-3, a large language model developed by the Microsoft-backed company OpenAI that's also built into the viral chatbot ChatGPT (another OpenAI product). In a blog post published this morning, Snap claimed that My AI is capable of generating content similar to that for which ChatGPT has become famous, including gift ideas and personalized haikus. But according to The Verge, Snap’s new AI chatbot was intentionally designed to be more limited than ChatGPT in the range of responses that it can provide, so as to decrease the likelihood that it will say something offensive or manipulative.

Snap was careful to make clear in its communications about My AI that there’s only so much it can do to prevent such an outcome. “As with all AI-powered chatbots, My AI is prone to hallucination and can be tricked into saying just about anything,” the company wrote in this morning’s blog post. “Please be aware of its many deficiencies and sorry in advance!”

The company also stated that all text from users’ conversations with My AI will be collected and potentially reviewed for product-improvement purposes. “Please do not share any secrets with My AI and do not rely on it for advice,” the company wrote.

The guardrails that Snap has put in place around its new AI-powered chat feature were likely developed with an eye toward's Snapchat's predominantly young user base. According to data aggregator DataReportal, 58.9% of Snapchat’s users are between the ages of 13 and 24.

Snap isn’t the only big name in tech that’s trying to cash in on the popularity of ChatGPT, and more broadly that of “generative AI” - a phrase commonly used to describe AI systems that create original content. Earlier this month, software and computing giant Microsoft announced that it was launching updated versions of Bing and Edge - the company’s web search and browsing platforms, respectively - which are also integrated with OpenAI’s GPT technology. The announcement prompted Google – which according to Statista currently controls around 85% of the search market – to launch its own AI-powered chatbot called Bard.

Both Google and Microsoft have already been embroiled in controversy less than one month after the release of Bard and the new Bing after both platforms hallucinated information - that is, provided responses that were factually inaccurate or otherwise deviated from the system’s training data.

Whereas the user interfaces for both ChatGPT and the AI-powered Bing both center on a simple chatbox (where users enter prompts describing the content they’d like the systems to generate), Snap’s new AI feature adds another touch, which is also a brand trademark: customizable avatars. With My AI, Snapchat+ members can give a digital face – exactly like the ones that users design for themselves on the app – to the automated chatbot, creating the impression that it’s just another friend on the app.

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