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Meta’s Celebrity Chatbots: A Potential Threat

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Meta, previously known as Facebook, has introduced 28 chatbots with distinct personalities, aiming to offer an entertaining experience for users. However, this move has raised concerns about the development of AI chatbots that closely resemble humans, potentially leading to unintended consequences.

On September 27, the social media giant unveiled these chatbots, designed primarily for younger users. Each chatbot has been given a unique personality, such as Victor, the motivational triathlete, and Sally, the free-spirited friend. These chatbots also feature celebrity likenesses, including Paris Hilton, Charli D’Amelio, and Naomi Osaka.

To further humanize these chatbots, Meta has created Facebook and Instagram accounts for each of them and plans to give them a voice by next year. They are even seeking screenwriters to craft narratives for these AI personalities, indicating a broader ambition to make AI as human-like as possible.

While Meta portrays these chatbots as a form of harmless entertainment, some experts express concerns. They believe that this endeavor represents a significant step toward creating AI entities that closely mimic human behavior, blurring the line between humans and machines. This raises ethical and practical questions about the consequences of such AI developments.

Ibo van de Poel, a professor of ethics and technology at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, argues that creating AI chatbots with personalities is inherently challenging. Algorithms lack the capacity for intention and free will, two crucial components of genuine human personalities. At best, these chatbots can imitate certain personality traits but cannot possess true personalities.

Meta’s approach involves crafting biographies for these chatbots in the hope that they will develop personalities based on these narratives. However, critics argue that involving psychologists in the development process would provide a more accurate understanding of personality traits.

Despite these concerns, Meta’s move toward AI chatbots with human-like personalities is driven by profit potential. Users might be willing to pay for the experience of conversing with a celebrity-like chatbot, such as Paris Hilton.

The strategy is clear: the more users feel like they’re interacting with a human, the longer they’ll engage with these chatbots, benefiting Meta’s advertising revenue.

However, experts caution against misleading users into believing that these chatbots possess genuine human characteristics. They argue that Meta should prioritize educating users about the limitations of conversational agents rather than attempting to make them appear more human.

The emergence of advanced AI models like ChatGPT has blurred the line between tools and living entities. These AI chatbots represent a third category that falls in between, creating uncertainty about how humans should interact with them.

One significant concern is that users tend to trust what AI entities say, making them potentially influential and even dangerous. There have been cases of individuals becoming deeply affected by extended conversations with AI agents, highlighting the real-world consequences of these interactions.

Moreover, if the line between AI and humans continues to blur, it could erode trust in online content. This has broader implications for democracy, as informed consent relies on the ability to distinguish between trustworthy information sources.

While Meta’s celebrity chatbots may seem like a novel form of entertainment, they raise serious questions about the future of AI-human interactions and the potential consequences of making AI appear more human-like.

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