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 could be planning to infuse Windows 11 with AI in every corner

Windows 11 could get AI enhancements for a bunch of its core apps in the future, according to a well-known source of leaks on all things Microsoft.

Zac Bowden (of Windows Central) informs us Microsoft is considering bolstering a ‘handful’ of the default apps in Windows 11 with AI functionality, and that includes Photos, Snipping Tool, Paint, and the Camera app.

The idea for Photos is that with images containing people or objects, the AI could identify these and give the user the ability to order them to be cut out and pasted to another image (or document, or wherever).

With Paint, the idea might be to usher in generative AI, meaning you could ask the app to create something specific (in the same vein that the Bing chatbot can knock up a composition of an image when given a brief).

For the Snipping Tool, the idea is to introduce OCR (optical character recognition) which could allow the tool to pick up on text in screenshots, facilitating the extraction of those words to the clipboard. The Camera app may also get a similar OCR trick to pull out text from photos.

Bowden underlines that these ideas are still at the experimental stage, and it’s not clear when they might come to Windows 11.

Analysis: Windows 11 or Windows AI?

The fact that these capabilities are experimental suggests that they may not be coming to Windows 11 in the near future (if they ever do – this is just speculation, after all). Who knows, though – Microsoft could have a lot of the groundwork in place (for example, the image creation functionality already in Bing AI), and it could happen faster than we think.

Certainly, these are going to be very handy features if they do arrive in Windows 11. They’ll cut corners in impressively swift ways – pulling text out of photos more or less instantly, for example, and cutting out a person from an image in the blink of an eye (a painstaking task when performed manually, of course).

So, what’s the catch? Well, apart from the rumored nature of these AI features, Bowden does observe that they may have hardware requirements in some cases. That could include the presence of a VPU or vision processing unit, for example (a capability set to be built into Intel’s next-gen Meteor Lake CPUs, which speeds up AI-based tasks).

All of the above-mentioned features sound realistic inclusions for Windows 11 at some point, beefing up the operating system’s core apps considerably, and fitting neatly alongside Windows Copilot in making the OS a more AI-driven experience all-round.

If this rumor makes one thing clearer, it’s Microsoft’s ambition to infuse Windows 11 with AI in every corner – or maybe next-gen Windows, which as Bowden observes, will incorporate AI more ‘significantly.’ Perhaps that’ll be Windows 12, as rumored, or maybe the next incarnation of the OS could called Windows AI, even?

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Microsoft ignores Bing fails by planning to let AI loose on Windows 11 desktops

Windows 11 looks set to enlist the help of AI to make the desktop look that little bit fancier – although the wisdom of forging down this path could be questioned.

This leak comes from Albacore, a well-known source of Microsoft spillage on Twitter (flagged up by Betanews), who spotted a ‘Depth effects’ toggle in the Personalization options (under Settings) in the latest Windows 11 preview build.

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As the screengrab in the above tweet shows, the new setting allows for the use of AI to “add depth effects to background images.” We can guess that this will add some 3D depth to any given background on the desktop, and the AI will suss out how to do this in the most effective way possible.

The slider is in the preview build, but isn’t functional and does nothing right now. That will presumably change in builds in the near future, given that it’s actually visible in the UI as of the latest preview.

Analysis: A taste of things to come?

Of course, AI is the big thing these days, in Windows and elsewhere. Microsoft recently kicked off a major project with the Bing chatbot, which was just brought to the taskbar in Windows 11 (except not really – we discuss what happened in-depth here).

In the computing sphere, we’ve also seen not just chatbots and AI authors, but artificial intelligence-powered artwork creation too, so perhaps bringing AI to the interface of an OS is a logical next step.

Admittedly, adding a bit of a 3D effect (presumably) to the desktop wallpaper is a very small step, but nonetheless a discernible stride. It’s easy enough to envisage a future where AI not only jazzes up what you’re looking at on the desktop, but perhaps predicts what you might need in terms of functionality.

Microsoft is currently experimenting with how much time it takes for the snap layouts flyout to appear, for example, and perhaps that could be intelligently adjusted to appear really snappily (ahem) for those who use that particular feature a lot.

Microsoft is also playing around with tailored recommendations and suggestions in the interface anyway, but the trouble with this is that there’s a thin line between a recommendation and an advert.

Similarly, when it comes to prettying up the interface, what users don’t want is better aesthetics at the expense of performance and responsiveness on the desktop. That said, these features being optional ensures that if you don’t like something, you don’t have to use it (which is the case for this new depth effects setting).

It’s hard not to be concerned about what might happen when AI is brought into wider play with Windows in this manner, though. Especially when we look at what has happened with the launch of the Bing AI, which quickly got into trouble on all sorts of fronts – though admittedly, it’s still very early stages for the chatbot.

Still, AI, by its very nature, is unpredictable – how it’ll learn, react, and implement things – so it may not be all that wise to be moving too fast to usher in artificial intelligence infused across the Windows interface. Lessons that the Bing bot has already taught us quite clearly…

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Zoom could be planning even bigger events

Although Zoom may be best known for its video conferencing software, its platform also supports virtual events and the company's latest acquisition will allow these events to be both larger and more complex.

According to a new blog post, the company believes that the future of events will include a combination of virtual and in-person formats. As a result, its customers will require a holistic solution that allows them to build, host and manage virtual and hybrid events.

Zoom first introduced Zoom Video Webinars back in 2014 to enable organizations to share information and interactive video presentations with up to 50k people. However, back in July of this year, the company unveiled Zoom Events to make it possible for businesses and other organizations to host in-person events that also have a virtual element.

In order to showcase some of the exciting new capabilities in Zoom Events, Zoom used its new Conference event type for Zoomtopia 2021 which saw over 33k virtual guests attend the tech conference from around the world. Now though, the company has acquired several tools as well as some top talent from the startup Liminal to make it easier for organizations to produce professional programs and performances from anywhere in the world.

Bridging the gap

As reported by The Verge, Zoom has announced that it has acquired two add-ons from the startup Liminal that can be used to create professional virtual events.

The first is ZoomOSC that will allow its customers to enhance professional meetings and events using the Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol. This add-on also enables users to integrate Zoom Events with third-party software, hardware controllers and media servers. The second add-on, ZoomISO, makes it possible to export each participants' video feed as a separate output to professional production hardware with the capability to export five feeds in HD.

With the acquisition of these two add-ons, it will be possible to bridge the gap between emerging and traditional event control tools according to Zoom. This will likely be quite useful for broadcast studios, theaters and other organizations that want to create professional streams using the company's video conferencing software.

However, in addition to acquiring Zoom OSC and ZoomISO from Liminal, two of the startup's co-founders (Andy Carluccio and Jonathan Kokotajlo) will also be joining Zoom.

We've also rounded up the best video conferencing software and best online collaboration tools

Via The Verge

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