Meta AI is now on your phone: should you be worried?

Meta AI launch Australia
Image: supplied.

Opening Facebook or Messenger on your phone today might’ve looked a little different, thanks to the launch of the Meta AI chatbot in Australia.

Built to function as an assistant that answers questions and generates images from text prompts, Meta AI is available locally across the tech company’s suite of apps. Alongside Facebook and Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp also now have the chatbot integration.

Originally, Meta only launched its ChatGPT competitor in the US, but now it’s accessible to more than a dozen English-speaking countries, including Australia and New Zealand. It’s based on Meta’s newest large language model (LLM), Llama 3, which the company claims outperforms competing models.

Accessible via a blue circle icon, you can ask the virtual assistant all manner of questions at no cost. You can also use a browser-based version without logging in to any apps.

Meta AI in action

As much as chatbots and generative AI technologies have risen in prominence, many are concerned about their use. Experts claim the technology could hasten the spread of misinformation and hate speech, particularly in the year of a US election.

Testing Meta AI myself, it’s a reasonably snappy experience, although the responses are basic. When I asked the chatbot why I should use it, this was the response:

“Great question! I’m glad you asked. There are many reasons to use Meta AI:

  1. Get accurate answers: I can process vast amounts of information and provide up-to-date, relevant, and accurate answers to your questions.
  2. Save time: I can help you find what you need quickly, saving you time and effort.
  3. Generate ideas: I can assist with brainstorming, suggesting potential solutions, and even creating content like text, images, and more.
  4. Practice language skills: If you’re learning a new language, I can help you practice your skills and provide feedback.
  5. Stay organized: I can help you with tasks like setting reminders, converting units, and more.
  6. Entertainment: We can have fun conversations, play games, or even create stories together!
  7. Accessibility: I’m available 24/7, and you can interact with me using natural language, making me accessible to people with different abilities and needs.

Overall, I’m here to help, inform, and assist you in any way I can. So, feel free to ask me anything!”

Meta AI chatbot

When asked for a generated image showing Meta AI in action, the result was rather dystopian:

Meta AI generated image

It does include a small watermark indicating its AI-generated status, although any tech-savvy folks could remove it easily.

From the perspective of a small independent publisher, the ongoing issue of attribution continues here. You can ask the chatbot questions and it sources responses from Bing, but the sources it uses are hidden by default, requiring you to tap multiple times to view the website that provided the information.

The response sourced information from GadgetGuy‘s best TVs in Australia article, appearing on Bing search, but you have to dig to get there. One of the auto-prompts based on my Facebook feed was based on a recent interview given by the Adelaide Football Club coach, but Meta AI was unable to provide more recent information than 2022.

Like with any chatbot, it’s cool to experiment with, but should always be cross-referenced with official information.

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