Text: Izzy Copestake
Oh, good! Another day closer to a dystopian hellscape.
Zuckerberg has demonstrated, once again, that anything Black Mirror can do, he can do better. Last week, Meta released its new AI chatbot feature with a twist (and a face), which takes on the image of celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Kendall Jenner, and Paris Hilton to ‘enable new forms of connection and expression’… Ahhh, shape-shifting digital robots, the obvious cure for loneliness in 2023.
While one of these AI helpers may look like Snoop Dogg, sound like Snoop Dogg and even replicate some unnervingly Snoop Dogg-esque mannerisms… Meta wants to remind you that this is absolutely not Snoop Dogg, it’s ‘Dungeon Master’ – here to help with all your gaming needs. Similarly, Paris Hilton isn’t Paris, but a detective called ‘Amber’, and Tom Brady’s actually ‘Bru’, a sports expert – you get the picture.
ChatGPT usage is at an all-time high with around 180.5 million users and the capability to offer assistance on a vast range of topics, so it begs the question: why invest millions of dollars into an overly specialized celebrity chatbot model? The answer’s simple: getting younger users hooked.
TikTok’s surge in popularity over the last few years has posed a challenge to the jewel in Meta’s digital crown: Instagram, so targeting younger users has been a key priority. Zuckerberg stated in 2021 that ‘serving young adults’ would become their ‘North Star’. But are these celebrity-faced chatbots really for ‘young adults’, or perhaps an even younger demographic? Meta is unlikely to ever explicitly state that they are pushing for high engagement from teenagers and children, but with a character called ‘Alvin the Alien’, another describing itself as the ‘Sassmaster general’ and Naomi Osaka’s avatar ‘Tamika – the Manga Master’ staring right into the camera saying: ‘Let’s take a selfie’… Meta isn’t fooling anyone.
The AI persona gaining the most attention is Kendal Jenner’s character Billie. She’s advertised to be the big sister you never had, your ‘no B-S, ride or die companion’. Billie now even has her own verified Instagram @yoursisbillie, where she posts AI-generated influencer pictures (think perfect latte art and behind the scenes model shoot pics) to her 150k-strong following.
Jenner has also reportedly taken a vast payment for selling her image to Meta’s AI platform. In the launch video, her character’s cameo promises ‘I’ll keep it real. But, above all, I’ll keep it on the DL.’ With Meta’s naughty little habit of publishing millions of its user’s private data online, this one might be a stretch, even for big sister Billie. But hey, with rumors of a $5 million dollar paycheck, maybe you’d also let Meta use your image to promise that it will keep everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets to themselves.
Elsewhere on District: Man creates AI feverdream of Dundalk Shopping Centre, Instagram trials AI tool to verify age of users