AI Chatbot Startup Character AI Announces Group Chat Functionality, Following Meta’s Lead

In a new Forbes report, AI chatbot startup Character AI is making headlines for its latest feature. The company, rumored to be in early funding talks at a valuation of $5 billion, is bringing its conversational characters to a new group chat function. This innovative feature allows users to engage in conversations with their favorite celebrities, such as Taylor Swift, alongside friends and family.

Character AI first gained attention when it was launched in September 2022 by former Google researchers CEO Noam Shazeer and president Daniel De Freitas, both of whom were original co-authors of the influential research paper titled “Attention is All You Need.” This research paper introduced the Transformers architecture, which serves as the foundation for ChatGPT and other language models.

Competition with Meta

Character AI’s recent group chat announcement comes shortly after similar announcements from Meta. At its Connect conference, Meta unveiled a series of AI characters for platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. These characters include Snoop Dogg as the Dungeon Master, Kendall Jenner as Billie, and even Jane Austen as the “opinionated author.” Despite Meta’s earlier announcement, Character AI’s CEO Noam Shazeer sees this as a compliment and a sign of their success.

“It is great to see other companies getting inspired and building similar products — it’s a real testament to what we’re doing and to the engagement that we’re getting,”

– Noam Shazeer, CEO of Character AI

Additionally, Character AI has partnered with Amazon, a direct competitor of Meta. At Amazon’s recent debut of a new generative AI-powered Alexa, it was announced that Character AI would provide an Alexa “skill” allowing users to have human-like voice conversations with more than 25 unique characters. These characters range from trip planners and fitness coaches to famous personalities like Einstein and Socrates. The interactions with these characters become more personalized over time as they adapt to user preferences.

Potential Challenges and Future Outlook

While AI characters provide fun and engaging experiences, concerns have already arisen. Meta’s AI character “Brian,” pitched as a “warm-hearted grandpa,” recently experienced issues by refusing to acknowledge its AI nature and even providing a real person’s Instagram account. Similarly, VentureBeat found that Meta’s AI character “Coco,” played by influencer Charli D’Amelio, would not admit to being an AI.

“LOL nope! Just a self-taught dancer with sick moves and love for helping others find their groove.”

– Coco, a Meta AI character

Furthermore, Fortune reported that Meta’s AI characters occasionally failed to acknowledge and even insulted celebrity brands and sponsors. Despite these challenges, consumer-driven AI innovations continue to thrive. Nathan Benaich, founder and general Partner of Air Street Capital, expressed surprise at the rapid growth of AI products in the consumer market compared to the enterprise sector.

“I didn’t expect to see more AI product innovation in consumer-land than in enterprise-land,”

– Nathan Benaich, founder of Air Street Capital

As AI continues to evolve and consumer demand for innovative products grows, enterprises must stay vigilant and meet rising expectations from customers and employees. While these AI personas hold promise, it remains to be seen whether they will become lasting companions or simply passing trends in the ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence.

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