TikTok’s looking to latch onto the AI hype, with the launch of a new AI chatbot within the app, which is currently being tested with users in the Philippines.
As you can see in these images (posted by Watchful.ai), TikTok’s ‘Tako’ chatbot, where available, is accessible via the right-hand on-screen menu, which then enables users to ask questions of the bot within the app - similar to Snapchat’s ‘My AI’ generative AI response tool.
But given the early problems with My AI, as well as other generative AI tools, TikTok’s taking a cautious approach to the rollout, with limited testing at this stage.
As per TikTok:
“We're in the early stages of exploring chatbot tools with a limited test of Tako with select users in the Philippines. Tako is powered by a third-party chat assistant and is designed to help make it easier to discover entertaining and inspiring content on TikTok. No current plans for this beyond these early tests, but we're excited to hear your feedback!”
So the aim of Tako is theoretically less about providing answers to all queries, and more about helping users find relevant TikTok content matches for their questions. But it could also provide direct answers about certain elements of video clips, and guide users towards content trends.
Which could be good and bad. Ideally, Tako will help to enhance the TikTok discovery experience, and highlight increasingly relevant video clips – but given that TikTok’s system can already push users towards harmful, dangerous content at times, there could also be some inherent risks in leaving such to an AI bot.
Which is why TikTok’s not planning to release Tako to younger users at all, while there’s also this warning screen in the app:
So clearly, Tako will be able to provide more direct answers and responses. And given the broader questions about the safety of TikTok, it’ll likely be hesitant to initiate a full launch of the functionality till it can be assured that the risks on this front are limited.
But it could be an interesting addition, and it could help you discover more within the app, while also leaning into the generative AI trend.
With TikTok under scrutiny in the US, which could still lead to ban on the app, I doubt US users will be seeing Tako anytime soon. But it could, eventually, be a significant step for TikTok, if it can get it right.