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November 3, 2023

Instagram's Bold Leap into AI Friendships, A Glimpse of the Future

Instagram is brewing a digital marvel - an "AI friend" that's yours to mold and chat with

In a captivating glimpse of the digital future, Instagram is quietly brewing an enticing new feature—an "AI friend." This innovative concept promises users the ability to tailor an artificial intelligence companion to their preferences, engaging in insightful conversations, answering queries, offering creative brainstorming, and more. As app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi shared intriguing screenshots, the social media giant's foray into the world of AI friendships has piqued curiosity and raised questions about the potential for such a feature.

The screenshots reveal a fascinating degree of personalization. Users can select their AI friend's gender and age, adding a human touch to the virtual interaction. The novelty doesn't stop there; you can even choose your AI companion's ethnicity and personality, with options ranging from "reserved" to "empowering." This level of customization allows for tailor-made conversations that resonate with your unique preferences.

To make the AI friend even more engaging, users can define their AI's interests. These interests serve as the compass guiding the conversation's direction, adapting its personality accordingly. Whether you're into "DIY," "animals," "career," "education," "entertainment," "music," "nature," or more, your AI companion can reflect your passions, making every interaction feel truly personalized.

Personalization doesn't end with interests. You can choose an avatar and name for your AI friend, giving them a unique identity. These choices set the stage for a chat window where the magic happens, as you engage in captivating conversations with your customized AI companion. Despite the buzz around this exciting feature, Instagram has remained tight-lipped. As with any unreleased technology, it's essential to remember that what's in development today may not necessarily find its way to the public tomorrow. The feature might undergo further tweaks and changes during its developmental journey.

The prospect of AI friends isn't without its ethical concerns. Julia Stoyanovich, the director of NYU's Centre for Responsible AI, sheds light on a critical issue—generative AI's ability to mimic human interaction. While engaging, it can inadvertently lead users to believe they are conversing with a real person, fostering a sense of empathy and vulnerability. To protect users from potential risks, Stoyanovich emphasizes the need for transparency, ensuring that individuals are aware they are interacting with AI, not another human.

Instagram's venture into AI companionship holds the promise of a novel and deeply personalized virtual experience. The prospect of creating an AI friend tailored to your interests, personality, and even their appearance is an exciting glimpse into the future of human-AI interactions. However, as this endeavor unfolds, ensuring transparency and user protection remains paramount. As we embrace the age of AI friendships, a careful balance between innovation and ethical responsibility must be maintained, allowing us to forge connections while safeguarding against unintended consequences.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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