Snapchat's AI-powered chatbot has arrived. Here are my thoughts

Snapchat's newest feature, My AI, places a chatbot in your feed. The results were odd.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Snapchat ChatGPT
Getty Images/NurPhoto

If you've opened your Snapchat app recently, you probably noticed a new chat called "My AI" listed at the very top of your chat feed. This is referring to your new AI friend, Snapchat's My AI chatbot. 

My AI, Snapchat's AI chatbot running on the latest version of OpenAI's GPT technology, was launched the last week of February. 

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Originally it was rolled out only to users with a Snapchat+ subscription which costs $3.99 a month and guarantees users access to "a collection of exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features," according to Snapchat.

As of Wednesday, Snapchat's My AI feature is being rolled out to all Snapchatters globally, regardless of whether they are subscribed or not. 

With the My AI feature, users can give the bot a name, customize the bot's Bitmoji, get recommendations, and ask questions as they regularly would with ChatGPT

So does it work? I had a brief conversation with the chatbot that left me feeling just a little uneasy. 

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To talk to the bot, all you have to do is click My AI on the top of the chat and start typing away. 

The first thing I noticed is that it is more conversational than any of the chatbots I have tested before, including Bing Chat and ChatGPT

The bot can compose a response at the same pace a friend would compose a response. Most interestingly, the bot can carry a casual conversation well enough that it sounds like a human. 

For example, when I said I was at work, My AI responded by telling me it was trying to learn how to "cook new dishes" and even asked if I had some recommendations. 

Oddly specific and detailed for an AI chatbot if you ask me. 

My AI interaction screenshot
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

This interaction made me wonder what the real purpose of the Snapchat chatbot is. From our conversation, it looks like it is almost trying to act as a friend or a social bot. 

Snapchat has never made it clear what the purpose of the bot is, and my interaction left me with no further clarification.

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The closest thing to a definition Snapchat has given for its chatbot's purpose was that subscribers have been using My AI to "learn more about movies, sports, pets, and the world around them."

However, when I asked My AI about the news of the day, it said that as my "virtual friend", it could not look up today's news as seen by the photo. 

My AI interaction screenshot
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Snapchat users are taking to Twitter to vocalize their complaints, especially with the My AI chat appearing in their feeds. 

Users beg Snapchat to remove the chat saying it is an inconvenience. Snapchat, however, only gives that option to paying subscribers. 

Other concerns include that, in the initial announcement, Snapchat warned users to beware of "hallucinations"  and "deficiencies" that the AI chatbot may output in its responses. As seen with Bing's AI chatbot recently, these AI chatbots can exhibit strange behaviors at times. 

Furthermore, Snapchat advised users not to share secrets with the chatbot as the company will be storing all conversations that take place with the chatbot for improvement and review purposes. 

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"All conversations with My AI will be stored and may be reviewed to improve the product experience. Please do not share any secrets with My AI and do not rely on it for advice," the company warned.

My conclusion is that if you need someone to chat with, such as a "virtual friend", My AI may be a good solution for you. Everyone else may want to stick to ChatGPT. 

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