She looks like Kendall Jenner and sounds like Kendall Jenner, but is introducing herself on Instagram as Billie. Who is she?
Billie is an AI-powered bot managed by Meta using Jenner’s likeness. Meta has rolled out a group of bots played by familiar celebrity faces including Paris Hilton, Tom Brady, and Snoop Dogg.
Each bot has its own niche, specializing in specific topics for conversation. Tom Brady’s character Bru is a sports debater, primed for discourse with sports fans. Snoop Dogg’s character is a dungeon master, ready for conversations with fans of Dungeons and Dragons. Jenner’s character Billie is positioned as a big sister figure whom users can message for advice.
When the news first broke, there seemed to be some confusion around whether the images and videos were actually of celebrities, or if they were generated by AI.
In the introductory post for Jenner’s Billie, users left comments such as:
“AI is getting out of hand….”
“Is this legal? did Kendal consent to this? is she getting money from this?”
“I would say I always know AI when I see it. This one seems nothing like AI to me. If it actually is AI generated ... I will freak out.”
So far, the content featuring celebrity likenesses are real videos, with each celeb playing a human version of their bot. However, the chat features and messages from these accounts will be generated by AI.
Why is Meta using celebrity AI bots?
The play is essentially using celebrity and influencer faces to keep younger people engaged on Facebook and Instagram, which are more popular with older users. There are some concerns over user privacy (i.e. how the data shared with the AI chatbots be protected and used) and what celebrities lending their likeness to Meta entails.
According to The Information, participating creators were paid up to $5M to grant usage of their likeness to the tech giant. It’s publicly unclear just how much content Meta will be able to create using celebs' faces. The move also comes at a precarious time in the entertainment industry as both writers and actors experienced strikes this year, with protections from AI being a major sticking point in negotiations.
While it’s still too early to tell what the lasting impact of Meta’s AI bot experiment will be, the consensus is clear: it’s a bit creepy and could be a concerning sign of what’s to come.