Meta is planning on introducing dozens of chatbot personas – including a Futurama favourite

Meta is gearing up to announce a generative artificial intelligence chatbot (internally dubbed as ‘Gen AI Personas’) that is aimed at enticing younger users to the world of AI chatbots. The new chatbot is expected to launch during Meta’s Connect event on September 27, and will introduce some familiar but… dated ‘personas’. 

The Verge notes that the chatbots will come with different personas that will promote more humanlike, engaging conversations to appeal to younger users.  One of the ‘sassy’ robot personas is inspired by Bender from Futurama and Alvin the Alien.  

Meta is planning to add “dozens” of familiar faces to its chatbot roster and even plans on creating a tool that will enable celebrities to make their own chatbots for their fans. This is good news, as I could finally talk to Beyonce.

How do you do, fellow kids? 

Meta is clearly putting a lot of time and effort into perfecting its chatbot game in the budding world of AI. We all remember Snapchat AI, which rose to fame for about a week and then quickly fizzled out into obscurity.  

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal reached out to former Snap and Instagram executive Meghana Dhar, who noted that chatbots don’t “scream Gen Z to me, but definitely, Gen Z is much more comfortable” with new technology. She also adds that Meta’s goal with the chatbots is likely to be to keep them engaged for longer so it has “increased opportunity to serve them ads.”

That would explain the rather random selection of ‘young people’ personas that Meta is going for. While Bender from Futurama is pretty recognizable, he’s not exactly a Gen Z icon. As someone from the demographic Meta seems to be targeting, it’s an extremely odd celebrity to slap onto your product, considering there’s a plethora of other (more relevant) personalities to choose from. 

The advantage Meta has in picking Gen Z as its target demographic is that Gen Z is very public about who they are super into right now. Meta could have picked literally anyone else, so hopefully the other personalities it has up its sleeve are a bit more … contemporary. 

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Microsoft is finally introducing the feature that’ll make me upgrade to Windows 11

Windows 11 is finally getting a feature I’ve been keenly awaiting since the OS was released – yes, a ‘never combine’ option is coming to the taskbar. Oh, a joyous and rapturous day indeed (ahem).

This is one of many changes brought forth with a new preview build (23466) in the Dev channel, and it has been previously speculated about in a number of leaks.

Turning on 'never combine' mode for the taskbar means that apps are always kept as individual entries on the bar, even when multiple copies of the same application are open at the same time.

With multiple instances of apps, by default Windows 11 stacks them up – combines them, so to speak – into one entry on the taskbar. Never combined, as the name suggests, means this doesn’t happen, and they all stay separate – and you can see the labels on those individual instances (telling you which web page is currently active, for example, in a browser window).

Not all testers will see this straightaway, Microsoft informs us, as it’s a gradual rollout. So even if you’re a Windows Insider hanging out in the Dev channel, it may still be some time before you receive the option.

Happiness is a non-combining taskbar

The introduction of the never combined option for the taskbar is a big one for me, as the lack of this feature is pretty much the biggest reason why I’ve not upgraded to Windows 11 yet. (There are other niggles, too, but let’s not stray off-topic).

That probably sounds a bit overblown, but seriously, stacking up apps on the taskbar is a deal-breaker as far as I’m concerned. I hate this way of working – it truly bugs me – so I was pretty mystified when Windows 11 turned up without never combine (as it’s known in Windows 10 – I’m not sure why it’s now ‘combined’ in Windows 11, but it doesn’t really matter).

It’s never a good idea to remove choice as far as I’m concerned, but Microsoft didn’t do this out of some arbitrary desire, we were told. The chatter from the usual insider sources suggested that adding what seems like a simple bit of functionality on the face of it was actually a pretty complex issue around how the interface of the latest OS was built from the ground up.

I’m not sure how far I buy into that, but I can accept the basic premise. I just can’t understand why it has taken so very long for Microsoft to introduce this for Windows 11 – clearly, it was pretty far down whatever interface priority lists were drawn up internally. 

But hey, it’s here now, if only in testing. Hopefully, Microsoft will manage to push this change through in the big update at the end of the year (23H2). After all, the groundwork should’ve been the hard bit here, so honing the feature shouldn’t be that much of a task. I hope.

Then I can fire up that Windows 11 upgrade, finally, and get with the OS times. This feels a bit more like a pressing need following the announcement that Windows 10 won’t get any more features at all (save minor tweaks – there’ll be no 23H2 update for the older operating system, as you may recall).

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Instagram is introducing an incredible new way to get nostalgic

As we approach a new year, it is only natural that we start to think back to what the previous one has been like. If you're the sort of person who lies to feel the wave of nostalgia that Facebook's Memories feature can bring each day, you're going to love the new feature that Instagram is introducing.

Building on the idea of the Stories archive that was introduced a few years back, Instagram is adding a new, time-limited way to share your 2021 highlights with your friends.

The new feature is called Playback, which gives you a way to create a customized journey through your year by selecting your favorite moments from your Stories archive. It is a more personal option than many of the “look back over the previous” year features that the likes of Facebook create as you are placed in control of what is included.

While there is a lot to be said for automated “year in review” posts, what is algorithmically selected for inclusion may not match what you would have chosen yourself. And this is why Instagram's approach is so great.

Get reflective on Instagram

The new feature lets you select up to ten Stories from your archive, and if you would like to post an upbeat Playback, you can select all of the positive Stories you have posted across the year.

Equally, you might be feeling more melancholy, in which case you can opt for the slightly sadder posts. Or, of course, you can mix it up to give a fair representation of the ups and downs that 2021 has probably involved for you.

The Playback feature launches today and will be available for “A few weeks”. You will see a message pop up within the app inviting you to create your Playback. You can then nostalgically shift through your Stories and select the ones that you think best sums up the year.

Instagram also says that if you see a 2021 Story posted by somebody else, you just need to click on the 2021 sticker contained within that Story in order to create your own Playback.

So take a browse through your Stories archive and share your 2021 highlights with your friends and family.

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Twitter might be taking on Slack by introducing business DMs

Twitter has announced that it has acquired the business messaging service Quill in a move that could enable it to take on Slack.

After raising around $ 16m in funding, Quill exited beta earlier this year as an alternative to Slack available on Windows, macOS, Linus, Android and iOS.

In a new report, TechCrunch points out that the company was founded by the former creative director of Stripe, Ludwig Pettersson who is well known and admired by many in the startup community.

While neither Twitter nor Quill disclosed the terms of the deal, Quill did put out an announcement in which it informed users of its business messaging service that they will have until December 11 to export their team message data. Surprisingly though, Quill has created a Python script that allows users to transform their data into the CSV format so it can be imported into Slack.

Business DMs

As part of the acquisition, Quill's staff will be joining Twitter's Experience organization to help work on the social network's messaging tools and direct messages while Pettersson will become a product manager reporting to the Conversations team.

Since its launch in 2006, Twitter's direct messages or DMs have grown in popularity as a way to communicate quickly with others online and as a result, many have wondered whether the company would try to turn them into a standalone product or even a paid service for businesses.

Online collaboration tools have become essential for businesses during the pandemic as being able to communicate with co-workers is especially important when working from home. Now that Slack is part of Salesforce, organizations may be looking for an alternative business messaging service and by purchasing Quill, Twitter is in the perfect position to offer its own solution.

We'll have to wait and see what happens as a result of Twitter's Quill acquisition but with a new CEO at the helm who is actively trying to diversify its business, business DMs could be a very real possibility.

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Via TechCrunch

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