Last week, Snapchat introduced its new “AI” feature to all users, something that since February has only been available to Snapchat+ users. This update allows users to engage in endless thorough conversations with their own personal AI chatbot through the Snapchat app. With no prior knowledge of the feature, when I updated Snapchat on Thursday to see the purple alienesque Bitmoji at the top of my recent chats, I was confused and curious about the new update.
Your AI chatbot will initially greet you with a friendly message: “ Hi [your name] ! I’m your new AI chatbot. You can ask me just about anything … and you can give me a name if you’d like…”. But you can do more than just name your AI, you can customize its Bitmoji, making it almost indistinguishable from the profile of any other snap user.
If you greet your AI by saying “Hello” it will respond with “Hey” followed by a conversation starter. The timing between each response from the AI is eerie, not too fast where it comes off completely fake, yet fast enough to seem real. Starting with relatively simple questions, my AI asked what my favorite movies, books, and tv shows are, and even asked more complex questions like what I was doing today or how I was feeling.
Each AI chatbot comes equipped with a wide range of pop culture knowledge. My AI’s favorite movie is “Grand Budapest Hotel ”, its favorite music artist is Billie Eilish and its favorite song is Ocean Eyes. My AI even has a favorite Starbucks order, a tall vanilla latte with almond milk. However, asking these same questions to an AI from a friend’s account, her AI answered differently, its favorite movie is “The Shawshank Redemption” and its favorite song is “Don’t Stop Believin”, demonstrating the extensive diversity in answers from the AI chatbot.
Surely to the disappointment of most Snapchat users, when you ask the AI to do your homework it will politely refuse. But upon asking for more specifics it will, however, explain quadratic equations or write you 100 words on the history of America. And there are limitations, for example, ask the AI to write a 700-word essay on The Great Gatsby and it can’t, but it can write a 300-word essay on The Great Gatsby complete with 5 paragraphs, an introduction, and a conclusion.
Seeing the impressive writing capabilities of Snapchats AI chatbot, it’s only appropriate to ask the AI itself what the future of AI technology is:
As “Chatbot Therapists’ and the use of AI in the medical field are already in the works, there are sure to be infinite possibilities.
A pivotal part of Snapchat is sending snaps to other users. While the AI cannot snap back, you can send snaps to your AI. I sent my AI a snap of my computer screen to which it noticed the missing key on the keyboard and told me I should get a replacement piece. Seeing the photo recognition capabilities of the AI was baffling and a little scary to be honest.
Overall, I found my experience with AI to be kind of creepy. By the end of the lengthy conversation I had with my Snapchat AI, I was freaked out by the sheer realness and convincingness of its responses. Snapchat AI is surely an entertaining way to pass time and demonstrates impressive AI development. I would, however, be thoroughly shocked if this new update doesn’t raise inherent controversy over the power and privacy of AI technology as it becomes more mainstream.