Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Meta adds AI to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp

AI is coming to your phones, your computers, your cars, and your social experience, as Meta connects an AI chat bot to everything it makes.

When Burt Bacharach wrote “What the World Needs Now”, he probably wasn’t thinking of AI, sweet AI. It’s the only thing that there might be just way too much of.

AI is turning up everywhere lately, from the latest phones to the arrival of AI PCs, and it’s even in services to help you make music from literally nothing more than mere text prompts.

If you’re not so sure about AI on the whole, you may not soon get much of a choice, particularly if you use the social media services owned by Meta, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

In fact, if you rely on any one of those, there’s an update rolling out this week that’ll provide AI access inside each. That’s because Meta has launched Meta AI, an assistant that uses Facebook’s Llama 3 model to dig up more information about what you find on its services, about recipes, about information in general, and even use it to create images much like what Midjourney and other AI image generation systems can do.

It’s something launching in Australia and New Zealand this week (as well as Canada, Singapore, South Africa, and a few other countries), as Meta expands Meta AI outside the US.

Depending on how familiar you are with other AI information services out in the world, such as ChatGPT, Meta AI will do similar things, finding information on music nearby, or even breaking down topics into more terms. It may provide inspiration for shopping, and because it’s being integrated into Facebook’s apps, it can be called up directly.

For instance, if your friends are talking about something in Messenger, Meta AI can be called up for recommendations, while it might be useful to provide more information about something you’ve seen in a Facebook feed.

That’s what’s rolling out across the country, while Meta’s image creation AI processes are in testing initially in the US on WhatsApp, but works on its online Meta AI system outside of America. Sparked by a similar mechanism to what Midjourney uses, it’ll see WhatsApp users (and folks on Meta AI) trigger image creation with the word “imagine”, with the results able to be animated afterwards.

One thing worth noting about the entire Meta AI experience is that, at least from our testing, Meta’s AI is prone to the same problems of other AI systems. That means it can (and will) make things up when it doesn’t have all of the information.

For instance, while it provided helpful information in some areas and was even able to identify what this website was all about, the app made by this site’s owner included features that it didn’t do.

We were able to point out these facts and have Meta AI correct itself in the same session, but when asked again from a new session, it repeatedly made the same if not more mistakes.

In short, just like ChatGPT, Meta AI may be prone to making things up when it doesn’t have the answers. As seems to be the case with other AI platforms, you’ll want to take it with a grain of salt and check the answers.

However, could still be useful. While the feature is gradually rolling out to app feeds, we found it was handy to provide inspiration for a recipe or two for food found at Disneyland, even if it was made mostly on guesswork (we asked Meta AI where it found the recipe, and it didn’t have one, making it up from a variety of sources).

Over time this should improve, mind you, but it’s definitely an interesting way to connect AI to more people, and at least introduce artificial intelligence systems to folks who haven’t tried platforms like ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini.

For those using Meta’s app — Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp — the feature is rolling out now. If you don’t rely on Meta’s apps and are keen to try it, you’ll find is working inside a web browser at Meta AI, a browser-based version of the AI functionality Meta has developed with Llama 3.

Not everything Meta AI digs up is real. It will create information if it doesn’t have it. We’ve corrected this list to what the app actually has, marking a big “nope” next to the features it doesn’t use.
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