Artificial advice

Could you see yourself going to an AI chatbot for advice? 

Instant messaging app, Snapchat, has released its own artificial intelligence bot called ‘My AI’.

The feature is powered by ChatGPT and offers solutions and advice, in a friendly tone. 

My AI appears on the chat page of Snapchat, just like any other contact.  

Digital and social media student Lorena Neira is an avid user of Snapchat and has tried talking with the Chatbot. 

“It has the same features, the same layout and it has the little Bitmoji icon that any user would have,” she says.

“It looks like you’re talking to a real person.”

Lorena Neira
The ‘My AI’ has the same layout as a regular contact on Snapchat. Photo: Eleanor Forte.

Neira says the text conversation with the AI chatbot feels a little artificial, despite its attempt to look like a real user. 

“I personally find it a bit creepy and unnatural to talk to someone that isn’t real, however, I can see how it may benefit some users,” she says. 

Curtin University professor of internet studies Tama Leaver has concerns around the use of AI for advice. 

“It’s given advice which is pretty dodgy,” he says.

“I think the rush to embrace AI means perhaps we haven’t tested their systems as thoroughly as we should.”

Professor Leaver says AI can be beneficial in providing shortcuts to a complicated task but the advice it gives is not always accurate.

“We’ve seen really strong examples of it essentially making stuff up.”

Tama Leaver says we need to be reminded that SnapChat AI uses ChatGPT and it isn’t always accurate. Video: Eleanor Forte.

Professor Leaver says he is concerned My AI’s friendly nature may lead to oversharing with the chatbot. 

“The normal hesitations you might have about sharing personal information may not be there as we’re used to using Snapchat as a relatively intimate space.” 

Leaver says we need to remain careful when sharing information with AI. Photo: Eleanor Forte.

Professor Leaver says he can see a place for technology like AI to help support people especially with a high global demand of mental health support services.

“I do think there is some call to use technologies to help support people … however I’m not sure Snapchat is the place for that.”

When asked to give advice on how to reduce anxiety, the AI responds with “I am not a professional” but gives a list of basic activities to help reduce anxiety. The chatbot also provides a list of mental health resources.

‘My AI’ chatbot provides advice and useful links to mental health questions. Video: Eleanor Forte.

University student Taia Eastwood has had a positive experience from using Snapchat’s AI function. 

“When I need advice on difficult things it provides me with logically and emotionally-intelligent answers.” 

Eastwood says the chatbot has also been useful for lighter questions and can quickly provides solutions.

“I’ve asked it questions about a problem with my car and it was able to tell me what was wrong. I have also asked questions to do with my university work and received me really good answers.”

Lorena has tried ‘My AI’ on Snapchat and hasn’t seen the appeal. Photo: Eleanor Forte.

Not all users are finding the Snapchat AI to be helpful. Neira says she finds it really frustrating. 

“I can’t remove it from my friend list, which causes a bit of frustration when I’m wanting to talk to my real friends in my life.”

Other users have shared their struggle with deleting the AI.

Snapchat has now given instructions for how to remove the Chatbot on their website.