Meta’s A.I. Assistant Is Fun to Use, but It Can’t Be Trusted

In the last few days, you may have noticed something new inside Meta’s apps, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp: an artificially intelligent chatbot.

Within those apps, you can chat with Meta AI and type in questions and requests like “What’s the weather this week in New York?” or “Write a poem about two dogs living in San Francisco.” The assistant will come up with responses immediately, such as “The corgi was short, with a butt so wide, the lab was tall, with a tongue that would glide.” You can also instruct Meta AI to produce pictures — like an illustration of a family watching fireworks.

This is Meta’s response to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the chatbot that upended the tech industry in 2022, and similar bots including Google’s Gemini and Microsoft’s Bing AI. The Meta bot’s image generator also competes with A.I. imaging tools like Adobe’s Firefly, Midjourney and DALL-E.

Unlike other chatbots and image generators, Meta’s A.I. assistant is a free tool baked into apps that billions of people use every day, making it the most aggressive push yet from a big tech company to bring this flavor of artificial intelligence — known as generative A.I. — to the mainstream.

“We believe Meta AI is now the most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use,” Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, wrote on Instagram on Thursday.

The new bot invites you to “ask Meta AI anything” — but my advice, after testing it for six days, is to approach it with caution. It makes lots of mistakes when you treat it as a search engine. For now, you can have some fun: Its image generator can be a clever way to express yourself when chatting with friends.

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