Snap is releasing its “My AI” chatbot to all of Snapchat’s 750 million monthly users for free, a move that comes less than two months after the OpenAI-powered bot was first made available to the app’s more than 3 million paid subscribers.
My AI is also becoming a more integral part of Snapchat. It can now be added to group chats by mentioning it with an @ symbol, and Snap will let people change the look and name of their bot with a custom Bitmoji avatar. In addition, My AI can now recommend AR filters to use in Snapchat’s camera or places to visit from the app’s map tab. And Snap plans to soon let people visually message My AI and receive generated responses; an example shown during the company’s annual conference today showed a photo of tomatoes in a garden, prompting the bot to respond with a generated image of gazpacho soup.
While Microsoft and Google are racing to integrate generative AI into their search engines, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel sees the technology as “an awesome creative tool.” During a recent interview, he shared personal examples of using My AI to create bedtime stories for his children and plan a birthday itinerary for his wife, Miranda Kerr. More than 2 million chats per day are already happening with My AI, he says.
“Just based on the way that they work, I think they’re much more suited to creative tasks,” Spiegel says of generative AI bots. “And some of the things that make them so creative are also the things that make them not so great at recalling specific information.”
“Just based on the way that they work, I think they’re much more suited to creative tasks.”
He describes Snap’s relationship with OpenAI, which is providing the foundational large language model for My AI, as a “close partnership.” It’s clear Spiegel is personally passionate about the project and sees My AI as a critical part of Snap’s future. While he declined to discuss the cost of running the chatbot, I’ve heard that Snap has been surprised at the affordability of operating it at scale.
Spiegel also remains tight-lipped about My AI’s potential impact on Snap’s advertising business, which has faced considerable growth challenges. He acknowledges that leveraging My AI’s interactions for ad targeting could be an opportunity but refrains from elaborating further, hinting at possible developments in the near future.
When My AI was first released to paying Snapchat Plus subscribers, it didn’t take long for it to misbehave. The Center for Humane Technology, for example, posted examples that included My AI coaching a 13-year-old girl about how to set the mood when having sex with a 31-year-old. Snap responded by adding more safeguards to My AI, including using a user’s self-reported age in Snapchat to inform how the bot responds to prompts.
Despite the problematic interactions that have already surfaced, Spiegel says the overwhelming majority of interactions with My AI have been positive. “The thing that gave us a lot of confidence is that as we monitored the way that people were using the service, we found that 99.5 percent of My AI replies conformed to our community guidelines,” he says.
There’s a debate raging in the AI industry about whether companies should anthropomorphize chatbots with human personas. According to Spiegel, the ability to change My AI’s name and customize its appearance was one of the top requests from early users. “To me, that just speaks to the human desire to personalize things and make them feel like they’re their own.”
As for the broader concerns regarding the potential harm of generative AI, Spiegel offers an optimistic perspective: “When I compare this to almost any other technology that has been invented in the last 20 years, it’d be hard to name one where people have been more thoughtful about the way it’s being implemented and rolled out.”