Meta tests AI on WhatsApp and Instagram users in India and parts of Africa

Meta AI is reportedly being tested with WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger users in India and parts of Africa.

According to TechCrunch, Meta is testing its large language model on massive user bases to scale its AI operations. The tech giant is among several major companies striving to break new ground in artificial intelligence, alongside OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft.

In February 2023, Meta revealed its intentions to develop and test various AI technologies, including chatbots. India, a crucial market for Meta, has begun to see the rollout of these AI chatbots. With over 500 million users on Facebook and WhatsApp, India stands as Meta’s biggest single market.

Developing markets, characterized by rapidly increasing smartphone adoption compared to developed markets such as the U.S., where growth has plateaued, are significant targets for Facebook to test new services to engage audiences. Users in Africa and India have already reported seeing signs of Meta AI in WhatsApp.

I discovered Meta AI on WhatsApp yesterday. I was delighted to have someone(?) answer my questions without interruption and assure me that they are always there to help. I asked it to recommend some nice old Scottish/British mystery and crime novels and out tumbled a whole lot of…

— Aparna🇮🇳 (@aparnasridhar7) April 15, 2024

Omg Meta just casually dropped it’s AI powered by Llama on WhatsApp 😳🤯

— Nikhil Kumar (@nikhilkumarks) April 12, 2024

What Meta AI did for me.

Cool AI feature on WhatsApp.

— Akeem Adenuga (@akeemaths) April 15, 2024

Some of the new features include AI image generation, and it reportedly has an advanced search functionality that allows users to ask a wide range of questions and receive relevant responses. Meta has also apparently partnered with Microsoft’s Bing to give users real-time information during chats, such as weather updates. Users report there is also end-to-end encryption.

Just noticed that my Pixel has got Meta AI search within WhatsApp. Not on iOS yet though.

— Anupam Gupta (@b50) April 15, 2024

“Our generative AI-powered experiences are under development in varying phases, and we’re testing a range of them publicly in a limited capacity,” a Meta spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Meta’s pivot into AI

In November, Meta reportedly disbanded its Responsible AI team, pivoting more resources toward developing generative artificial intelligence. Meta had been struggling to keep pace with industry leaders like OpenAI, and it had experienced significant setbacks, including layoffs and a notable exodus of AI researchers.

However, in recent months, it has launched several new initiatives including AI-generated labels and AI systems are being used to limit the visibility of political content.

Meta have been approached for further comment.

Featured image: Canva

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Suswati Basu