TikTok is testing an in-app AI chatbot called ‘Tako’

AI chatbots like ChatGPT are very popular right now, so it doesn’t surprise that TikTok is also trying its own TikTok new Ai ‘Tako.’ The “Tako” bot is being tested in a few markets. It will show up on the right side of the TikTok screen, above the user’s biography and other buttons for likes, comments, and notes. When a user taps Tako, they can use natural language searches to ask him questions about the video or get suggestions for other videos.

For example, if a person is watching a video of King Charles’ coronation, Tako might suggest that they ask, “What is the significance of King Charles III’s coronation?”

Or, if a person didn’t know what to watch, they could ask Tako to suggest videos on a certain subject, like funny pet videos. The bot would send back a list of results with the name, author, and subject of the video and links to other videos it thought you might like. Here, you can click on a video clip to view the video’s content.

TikTok is testing an in-app AI chatbot called ‘Tako’
(Image Credits: TikTok)

Watchful.ai, a company that analyzes apps, found that the bot was being tried in public, and TikTok confirmed that the tests are now live.

A TikTok representative told TechWeb, “Being at the forefront of innovation is a key part of building the TikTok experience, and we’re always looking into new technologies that add value to our community.” “In some markets, we’re testing new ways to improve search and discovery on TikTok, and we’re excited to learn from our community as we continue to make TikTok a safe place that entertains, inspires creativity, and moves culture forward.”

Watchful.ai says it found the AI chatbot in tests on iOS devices in the U.S., but TikTok says the current version of the bot is not yet available to the public in the U.S., but it is being tried in other global markets, including a limited test in the Philippines.

We also know that the bot won’t show up on the accounts of people under 18.

Behind the scenes, TikTok uses an AI service from a third party that it doesn’t know about and has tweaked to fit its goals. This change doesn’t use any AI tools made by TikTok or its parent company, ByteDance.

TikTok warns users in a pop-up message that Tako is still “experimental” and that its input “may not be true or accurate.” This is a standard warning for all current AI chatbots, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s AI. TikTok also says you shouldn’t rely on the robot for medical, legal, or business help. (We think the text in the picture below is from an older version of the bot, not the current tests.)

TikTok is testing an in-app AI chatbot called ‘Tako’
(Image Credits: TikTok)

The notice also says that all Tako talks will be reviewed for safety reasons and, in an unclear way, to “enhance your experience.” Unfortunately, this is one of the problems of using AI robots today. Since these technologies are so new, companies choose to keep track of their contacts with customers and review them to help their bots improve. But from a privacy point of view, this means that the AI talks are not erased when the chat is over, which could be a problem.

Some companies have gotten around this privacy worry by letting users directly delete their chats, as Snap has done with its My AI robot partner in the Snapchat app. With Tako, TikTok is taking a similar method since users can also delete their talks.

It’s unclear, though, if the AI robot keeps track of the user’s name or other personal details. At this time, it was also impossible to figure out how long the robot would keep data or how private it would be.

TikTok is testing an in-app AI chatbot called ‘Tako’
(Image Credits: TikTok)

Because AI chatbots can pose security risks, some companies have banned them at work. Apple, for example, has made it so that workers can’t use tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Microsoft’s GitHub’s Copilot out of fear that private information will be leaked. Banks like Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Walmart, Samsung, and the telecom giant Verizon have also put similar bans in place in the past few months.

Another question is why people would even want a new TikTok Ai ‘Tako’ AI robot in TikTok.

Most companies are dabbling with AI somehow, but TikTok thinks the chatbot could do more than answer questions about a video. Instead of putting it into a search box, users could use the chatbot to find content in the app.

This could be a problem for Google if TikTok’s tests go well and the robot is available to everyone. Google has already noticed that Gen Z is going to TikTok and Instagram first when they want to search for information on certain topics. Google will soon start rolling out a talking search experience, but if TikTok had its own TikTok new Ai ‘Tako’ inside the app, it could convince younger users to skip Google altogether.

Update, 5/25/23, 9 AM ET: TikTok’s Twitter account had more details about Tako when the book was written. We’ve added more information where it made sense.

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