TikTok, the popular social media platform, has announced that it is in the early stages of testing a chatbot called “Tako.” Designed to engage in conversations about short videos and assist users in discovering content, chatbot Tako is currently being tested with selected users in the Philippines. This move by TikTok comes in response to the rising demand for generative artificial intelligence (AI) features in the tech industry, sparked by the launch of OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT, which offers highly natural interactions.
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Snap Inc., a competitor of TikTok, has also joined the race to leverage game-changing generative AI. Their offering, “My AI,” is powered by ChatGPT technology. TikTok aims to utilize the chatbot Tako to help users discover “entertaining and inspiring content” within the app. Recently, Watchful Technologies, an Israeli app intelligence firm, discovered the presence of Tako on some versions of TikTok’s Apple mobile app.
Screenshots and videos shared by Watchful with Reuters displayed chatbot Tako as a prominent ghost-shaped icon on TikTok’s interface. Users can engage in text-based conversations with Tako by tapping on the icon while watching videos, enabling them to seek assistance in finding content. Reports also suggest that TikTok has been experimenting with generative AI tools, including an avatar creation feature. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company in China, is reportedly developing a large AI model, but the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, Douyin, currently does not offer AI chatbot functionalities.
Delving Deeper Into TikTok chatbot Tako
In a disclosure filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, TikTok submitted a trademark application for “TikTok Tako” in categories related to computer software for the artificial production of human speech and text. When questioned about Tako, a TikTok spokesperson expressed the platform’s ongoing commitment to exploring new technologies. The spokesperson emphasized TikTok’s dedication to creating a safe and entertaining space that fosters creativity and cultural engagement. However, no specific reason was provided for selecting the Philippines as the testing ground for Tako.
Watchful researcher Daniel Buchuk revealed that references to Tako were detected in certain versions of the TikTok app, including a test version on an iOS device in the United States. Using computer vision and data analysis, Watchful monitors app changes and emulates them. Although the monitoring includes devices in various countries, it remains unclear in which markets TikTok is conducting its Tako tests.
Tako: The Future of TikTok? AI Chatbot Unveiled!
Compared to the versatile ChatGPT, chatbot Tako functions more like a navigation assistant with a particular emphasis on encouraging users to watch more videos. According to Buchuk, Tako provides answers to user queries while also presenting relevant TikTok videos. For example, if a user asks about the date of King Charles’ coronation, Tako will provide the answer alongside video recommendations. Another demonstration showcased Tako’s ability to summarize tips from TikTok users when asked a question like, “How can we teach respect to children,” while suggesting related videos.
TikTok has issued a disclaimer regarding Tako, acknowledging that it is an experimental chatbot and that its responses may be inaccurate. The company has committed to reviewing Tako conversations for safety purposes and warns users against sharing private information with the chatbot. TikTok intends to gather insights and feedback from users during the testing phase to refine and improve Tako’s capabilities.