Google wants to 'supercharge Assistant' with AI as Meta gives bots a personality

Does that include Zuck or?

The chatbot craze isn't slowing any time soon. Google is understood to be injecting generative AI features into its digital assistant. Meanwhile Meta is said to be planning to launch virtual agents with various personas.

Google Assistant was introduced in 2016, and was accessible via the web giant's Allo app and voice-controlled Home speakers (now known as Nest) to compete against Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri. As generative AI takes off, Google wants to revamp its virtual assistant by giving it advanced capabilities powered by large language models (LLMs), accessible via Nest gear and cellphones.

By generative AI, that's presumably the ability to do things like create images or music out of text descriptions – what OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's own Bard can do, basically.

The search king has also reorganized its teams developing Assistant: the biz has laid off dozens of staff in that area out of the thousands working on the software, according to Axios.

The changes are part of Google's efforts to upgrade its Assistant software, and change the way it works for users, developers, and Googlers, we're told. A spokesperson for the Android maker told The Register in a statement:

"Hundreds of millions of people use the Assistant every month and we're committed to giving them high quality experiences. We're excited to explore how LLMs can help us supercharge Assistant and make it even better."

Meanwhile, Meta is reportedly developing multiple AI chatbots trained to mimic specific personalities and characters. It's hoped these will keep people using the internet titan's platforms. These may be deployed as soon as next month.

One of them is apparently modeled after Abraham Lincoln, and there is another that has the identity of a surfer and talks about travel, the Financial Times first reported.

Meta declined to comment. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, during his Q2 earnings call with financial analysts, hinted that new AI products, including chatbots, were coming to its mobile apps and the metaverse.

 "I'm going to share more details later this year, but you can imagine lots of ways AI could help people connect and express themselves in our apps: creative tools that make it easier and more fun to share content, agents that act as assistants, coaches, or that can help you interact with businesses and creators, and more," he said [PDF] last week. 

The applications may be powered by the Facebook owner's large language model Llama. Last month, it released Llama 2, its first-ever system that supports commercial use albeit with a few caveats. Meta will charge web giants to use the model in their services and applications if they have 700 million or more monthly active users. ®

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