In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, the integration of generative AI has sparked both curiosity and skepticism. The ongoing quest to find a meaningful use case for these advanced technologies has taken center stage as platforms grapple with the challenge of balancing innovation with the essence of social interaction. The question looms large: Is there a valuable use case for Generative AI in Social Apps?
The Meta vision and the TikTok push
This week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shed light on the company’s ambitious plans for the next phase of generative AI integration in social apps. Building a robust hardware infrastructure, Meta aims to create virtual worlds populated by AI characters accompanying real users. Zuckerberg envisions a platform where anyone can craft their AI characters, potentially reshaping the dynamics of social engagement on Meta’s ecosystem.
In a move that hints at this vision, app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi uncovered an AI character creation process embedded in Instagram’s code. Users would have the ability to customize their AI character’s gender, conversation style, and interests—an imaginary friend residing within Meta’s messaging apps.
Not to be outdone, TikTok is beta-testing Digital Avatars, AI-driven characters that serve as narrators for advertisers. With the power of AI, these avatars exhibit physical movements, facial expressions, and voiceovers, presenting a novel approach to product demos and how-to ads. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has successfully implemented CGI characters in China for live-stream shopping, reducing costs and potentially paving the way for Western markets to embrace similar AI-simulated human-like characters.
Exploring the use cases
While these developments showcase the potential of generative AI, questions linger about their true value in social apps. The creation of AI characters, whether on Meta or TikTok, raises fundamental questions about the nature of social engagement. Are users truly seeking interaction with non-human entities, and does this align with the core principles of social media platforms?
Meta’s previous venture into AI chatbots infused with celebrity personalities did not generate the anticipated excitement. The novelty of conversing with a bot resembling a celebrity faded quickly, challenging the notion that non-human interactions can provide meaningful engagement. As social platforms lean into generative AI, there is a risk of diluting the connective value that has been a hallmark of social media.
As generative AI inches closer to becoming a mainstream feature in social apps, the overarching question remains: Is there a killer use case for these technologies? The current state of affairs suggests a lack of clarity regarding the integration of chatbots and visual creation tools. Social apps seem to be searching for the sweet spot where generative AI aligns seamlessly with their core mission.
Looking ahead, the prospect of a VR world where users can create entirely new experiences through AI-generated interactions is tantalizing. Yet, the current state of social media prompts a critical evaluation of whether AI is a necessity or a feature pushed by platforms seeking to innovate for innovation’s sake.
In conclusion, the evolving landscape of generative AI in social apps raises more questions than answers. As Meta and TikTok explore new frontiers in AI integration, the true impact on real human interaction and the societal implications of AI characters come under scrutiny. Will generative AI make social apps more enticing or accelerate the decline of genuine human connection within these platforms?
The quest for a valuable use case for generative AI in social apps continues, and as the technology advances, users and platforms alike must navigate the delicate balance between innovation and the essence of social interaction. Will the future of social media be dominated by bots, or is there a genuine need for AI to enhance our digital social experiences? Only time will tell.