Whatsapp might make an AI feature Google and OpenAI don’t offer: an AI image of you

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WhatsApp is apparently developing an artificial intelligence-fueled image creator that will allow users to make AI avatars of themselves to place in virtual settings they suggest. The feature, first identified by WABetaInfo in a future beta version of the Android version of WhatsApp, will likely use WhatsApp parent company Meta’s Llama portfolio of AI models. 

“This feature allows you to take photos of yourself once, then ask Meta AI to generate AI images of you,” the screenshot of the beta explains. “To generate an AI image of yourself, type “Imagine me…” in your Meta AI chat. You can also use this feature in other chats by typing “@Meta AI imagine me…”

Users would upload some photos of themselves and Meta’s AI Llama model would create an AI avatar of them that can then be placed into any image setting based on text prompts. While the feature is currently in the beta testing phase and available to a limited group of users, it remains unclear when it will be widely available.

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The Avatars won’t be WhatsApp’s first AI feature. The social media platform recently added in-app custom stickers that users can create using text prompts. But, making it possible to embed yourself in an AI-generated image would be a major step forward for the company. 

AI Identity

The idea makes a lot of sense as an attractive feature for WhatsApp on its own. But, it would also stand out among Meta’s peers. AI image generators provided by the likes of OpenAI and Google are usually very reluctant to create AI avatars of any real person, let alone one that can be used repeatedly. ChatGPT will almost always say it can’t make an image of a real person, and Google Gemini pushes back on the idea of replicating a person in favor of an image of a character with a similar likeness or just in the same clothes. In fact, Google has recently made it easier to remove unauthorized AI avatars on YouTube, setting up a method for those who spot deepfake versions of themselves to request their takedown.

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Privacy and security are the obvious concerns around AI avatars of real people. While WhatsApp has not yet detailed the specific privacy measures for the AI-generated avatars, it likely will have to have some strict rules when the feature comes out. The company will want to ensure that user data is handled securely and that users have control over how their likeness is used. Offering the feature as optional is a step in that direction. That the feature appears to employ the Meta AI interface now available across Facebook, Instagram, and other Meta properties suggests WhatsApp may be a testing ground for an eventual wider rollout. 

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