Meta is going all in on artificial intelligence with the launch of a new AI assistant and a roster of AI-powered chatbots based on celebrities and influencers. The company unveiled the new products at its annual event this today, positioning them as the next evolution of social connection on Meta’s platforms.

The flagship product is Meta AI, a ChatGPT-like general-purpose assistant that users can chat with naturally on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. The assistant is powered by a custom large language model based on technology from Llama 2 and company’s latest large language model research.

Meta AI comes with an image generation tool built right into it, enabling users to generate images by chatting with it on WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger. It also has access to real-time information, powered by Bing, allowing users to ask questions or request assistance with tasks that require up-to-date information.

Meta’s launch coincides with OpenAI’s recent announcements, where the company introduced the latest version of its AI image generator, DALL-E 3, integrated into ChatGPT last week, and today, it announced the relaunch of the browsing feature in ChatGPT. (It is not clear if it’s a coincidence, to be exact. Perhaps OpenAI was aware and made sure that they launch launch before Meta.).

Ahmad Al-Dahle, Meta’s VP of generative AI, told The Verge that Meta AI is not trained on public user data from Facebook or Instagram but hinted at the possibility of adding some social features to it in the future, stating, “We see a long roadmap for us to incorporate some of our own social integrations into the assistant to enhance its utility even further.”

Beyond the assistant, Meta, as previously reported,  is releasing a cast of 28 AI chatbot characters tailored to specific interests like sports, cooking and crafts. Many are actually voiced by celebrities like MrBeast, Paris Hilton and Snoop Dogg. The characters aim to bring more personality and opinion to conversations versus just answering questions.

Meta leveraged its social reach to have influencers “play” certain characters, giving them custom Instagram and Facebook profiles. The company hopes this digital embodiment makes the AIs feel more familiar and lifelike. Subtle animations of the characters’ profile pictures also react during chats.

With over 3 billion users on its apps, Meta is betting immense distribution will give its AI an edge over competitors like ChatGPT. Integration directly into messaging means users don’t have to leave their conversations. While starting in English, Meta plans to expand the assistant and characters to other languages over time.

Meta said that they would continue to test and evolve the capabilities of their products, with safety in  mind, and improve the user experience based on learnings from how users interact with these products.