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  • Robert Farago

AI Abraham Lincoln. Meta Madness?

Meta looks to launch Honest Abe AI by September

The Financial Times reports that Meta will confront users with an AI Abraham Lincoln chatbot this September, “to boost engagement with its social media platforms.” The FT says other AI “personas” will include a surfer who will give travel advice. How gnarly is that?

In a country where half of the population can’t read above a sixth grade level, where half of those can’t read, an intellectually-challenged AI surfer dude chatbot totally makes sense.

The average Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Threads users are not the best-waxed boards on the beach (if you know what I mean). Duuuuude! You’ve got to check out Cancun! Click here to see the totally rad party action.

My first reaction to an AI Abraham Lincoln? Head fake! And a damn funny one at that.

Reporter: “Mark, when are we going to see the AI Abe on Facebook we heard so much about back in August?” Zuck: “As Lincoln said, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

Then again, AI Abe could be a thing. Mark’s Meta minions might be doing a Disney.

Specifically, creating an AI homage to one of Walt Disney’s most enduring attractions: the audioanimatronic Abraham Lincoln. Homage as in stealing someone else’s idea (again). Anyway, check this out:

A bit… creaky, isn’t he? Not to mention nailed to the floor. Cut the guy some slack! Disney launched the Lincoln simulacra at the 1964 New York World's Fair, long before latter day sex robots upped the verisimilitude game.

Honest Abe was originally a mass of whirring wires and motors, eventually upgraded to quieter hydraulic control. In 2009, the Prez got a new show (above). It’s pretty damn dull. Preachy. Using language that would sail above AI Surfer Dude’s head like an F-35 Raptor.

And now copyright-free Abraham Lincoln’s set to become a fully conversant Meta-dwelling AI chatbot, interacting with all and sundry to “boost engagement.”

No doubt users will interact with a very different Lincoln: a folksy AF wise-cracking Abe, not seen in the turgid Daniel Day Lewis movie, better glimpsed in this older version:

It sounds crazy but it just might work! In real life – an outdated concept but there it is – Abraham Lincoln was something of a self-help guru, spouting folksy advice at every turn. Such as…

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on” and “The best way to predict your future is to create it” and, famously, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Tell that to Mr. Zuckerberg. Some people understand that Meta’s AI persona plan is designed to gather user data to sell to advertisers. Nothing more and definitely nothing less.

Conversations with a Meta AI chatbot will deliver endless streams of personal data that Meta will leverage for ungodly amounts of money. Conversations that will not be encrypted.

The AI chatbots will ask questions to solicit sale-able data. Subtly, of course. Could they steer users towards particular products? Honest Abe as a car salesman? Lincoln makes automobiles. And if the Prez can make it as a vampire hunter…

Bottom line: forget the old Meta meta-data-based business. Zuckerberg’s troops are moving beyond clicks and keywords. They’re turning to AI chatbots to continue selling consumers’ online lives to the highest bidder, privacy and societal side effects be damned.

Meta’s AI personas will be tweaked to be as addictive as humanly – or inhumanly – possible. The bots will do everything in their power to get closerthanthis to their users. And stay there.

In Meta’s brave new AI persona world, “user engagement” may end up being a marriage made in Hell.

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