Conceived in 2011 as an app called Picaboo, what the world knows now as Snapchat has had a fairly bumpy ride but is still going very strong in 2023. (Since 2020 alone, Snap Inc.’s share price has jumped more than 450%, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic.) After clicking on its trademarked ghost icon (which I just learned today is named “Ghostface Chillah”), users can exchange instant messages, try out hundreds and hundreds of AR lenses and filters, share Stories, browse the app’s Discover page as well as its Spotlight (i.e. its TikTok-esque feature) and much more.
And now, anyone paying for a $3.99/month Snapchat Plus subscription will have access to the “My AI” chatbot feature.
What’s amping up the interest in My AI, though?
It’s powered by ChatGPT.
Snapchat isn’t the first big name to hop on the AI bandwagon (especially following the arrival of ChatGPT) but, as of this morning, it’s one of the latest. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel explained that the plan will eventually be to roll out My AI to all Snapchat users, but for right now it remains an exclusive and experimental feature for subscribers. Snapchat has reminded these subs: “Please do not share secrets with My AI, and do not rely on it for advice.” (This is sensible, given the challenges LLMs are facing in the still-ongoing AI boom.) My AI is hot on the trails of Microsoft’s Bing AI and Google’s Bard and, according to Spiegel, is just the beginning of the company’s plans involving integrations of artificial intelligence.
So, is this basically just ChatGPT: Snapchat Edition? In a way, that isn’t terribly off-base. It’s fast and mobile-friendly, but also more restricted in what it can answer based on how Snap has functionally trained it. According to The Verge, it also “treats the AI more like a persona. My AI’s profile page looks like any other Snapchat user’s profile.”
It’s an early opinion, but this design sounds as though My AI is being marketed as yet another “friend” on users’ lists within Snapchat itself, rather than a faceless search engine.
Is this the beginning of a major sub-area for AI-related investments? Is it just a fad? Or are we inching closer to the brink of the uncanny valley?
Time will tell. (Or My AI will, depending on how it’s asked.)
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