According to research firm, TikTok is testing an AI chatbot called “Tako”.
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Social media platform TikTok is testing an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that can converse with users through short videos and help them discover content, an app intelligence company said.
Israel-based Watchful Technologies said it found the AI chatbot named “Tako” on some versions of the TikTok app on Apple Inc. mobile devices.
Screenshots and videos Watchful shared with Reuters showed the chatbot appearing prominently on the app’s interface as a ghost-shaped icon that users can tap while watching videos to engage in text-based conversations and get help finding content receive.
When asked about Tako, a TikTok spokesperson said the social media platform is constantly exploring new technologies.
“In select markets, we’re testing new ways to advance search and discovery on TikTok, and we look forward to learning from our community as we continue to create a safe place that entertains, inspires creativity and advances culture,” said spokesman .
The effort comes after OpenAI, backed by Microsoft Corp., launched late last year the next-generation chatbot ChatGPT, which offers arguably the most natural interaction yet. This sparked an industry race to develop features based on groundbreaking generative AI, including TikTok rival Snap Inc., whose “My AI” is based on ChatGPT technology.
In April, US media reported that TikTok was experimenting with a generative AI tool to allow users to create avatars. China-based parent company ByteDance is working on a major AI model, Chinese media reported, but currently doesn’t offer AI chatbot capabilities for its Chinese counterpart on TikTok, Douyin.
A disclosure filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office last month revealed that TikTok had filed a trademark application for “TikTok Tako” in categories including “computer software used to synthesize human speech and text.”
Perceptive researcher Daniel Buchuk said his team began finding references to Tako in some versions of the TikTok app earlier this month, including a trial version on an iOS device in the US.
Watchful uses computer vision and data analysis to identify and emulate app changes. It monitors devices in different countries, but couldn’t identify which markets TikTok was conducting its tests in.
Unlike ChatGPT, which is positioned as an all-purpose chatbot, Tako feels more like a navigation assistant with a focus on encouraging users to watch more videos, Buchuk said.
“So if you’re asking, ‘When did King Charles’ coronation take place?’ “Tako will tell you the answer, but then you’ll also see relevant TikTok videos,” he said.
Another demonstration by Watchful showed that when a user asks Tako a question, such as “How can we teach children respect,” the chatbot responds by summarizing tips from TikTok users while recommending related videos.
TikTok has posted a disclaimer stating that Tako is an experimental chatbot and that responses may be inaccurate. It said it would review conversations with Tako for security reasons and warned users not to share private information with Tako.
(Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Brenda Goh and Christopher Cushing)
Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.