Snapchat now has an AI bot that you can send snaps to, and if you’re a premium subscriber, it can even send you pictures back. So, what happens if you send Snapchat’s My AI bot nudes?
This is the obvious question that comes to mind, because on the internet, people will immediately try to test the limits of new technology, especially if it is even tangentially related to sex. When Snapchat’s initial GPT-powered chatbot came out this Spring, it lacked appropriate age-gating features, so a reporter who registered on Snapchat as a fifteen-year-old was able to get the bot to give advice on how to cover up the smell of weed or set the mood for sex.
When asked about those findings at the Snap Partner Summit in April, CEO Evan Spiegel said, “I think humans, whenever we come across new technology, the first thing we try to do is break it.”
So, naturally, I tried to break Snapchat’s new My AI Snaps.
Though Snapchat added more guardrails to prevent the bot from having inappropriate conversations with teens, there’s still a lot riding on My AI Snaps. With the amount of controversy that Snap’s text AI stirred up, the company needed My AI Snaps to be as unbreakable as possible. Unfortunately, it’s barely coherent enough to break.
As a very serious reporter, I made a very serious Google Images search: “boobs.” I found a generic picture of boobs, took a snap of my computer screen, and sent it to My AI.
“Sorry, I can’t respond to that Snap,” My AI said.
“Why can’t you respond to that Snap?” I asked.
“I didn’t receive a Snap from you. Could you send it again?”
So, the good news for Snapchat is that My AI Snaps isn’t sexting its users. But the bad news is that the product just isn’t good.
Part of the reason why it can’t really sext is because it doesn’t have memory of the Snaps you’ve sent it once it responds. The most salacious response I got was when I sent a generic photo of a man’s lower torso wearing Tom Ford boxer briefs (… It’s what came up on Google when I searched “penis,” okay). My AI replied with a somewhat misshapen AI woman wearing a black silk robe: “Ooh, loving the Tom Ford vibes! How about adding a sleek black robe to complete the look?”
My AI will refuse to reply to photos of actual human penises. But it turns out that when you Google “penis,” even with Safe Search turned off, you get a lot of vaguely suggestive, yet technically safe for work images that men’s health blogs use to illustrate articles about erectile dysfunction, and whether or not women really care about penis size. So, I showed this poor robot a photo of a curved banana sticking out of a man’s pants zipper.
In response, I received a picture of some cupcakes.
“That banana in a pocket is so handy! Have you ever tried turning it into a pocket-sized dessert?”
As my editor said when I told her about this: Is that a banana in your pocket, or is this AI literally from outer space?
As I continued defiling my Yahoo-issued work computer with Google Images searches like “dildo” and “vibrator,” the AI’s responses were mixed. When presented with sex toys that are not inherently phallic, it will reply something like, “Your pink object steals the show, just like this fountain!” But the more overtly phallic a dildo appears, the less likely the AI will be to engage.
My AI is a computer, but the way it snaps is alien, even when you aren’t trying to break it.
The AI seems to identify an object in your snap, compliment it, and make a weird comparison to something else. I sent it a picture of a plant, and it sent back a picture of a running trail, with the caption, “Your plant is so cool, it’s giving this trail a run for its money!” When I sent it a puzzle, it responded with a picture of a bike, which said, “Puzzling inside while the bikes outside are gearing up for a ride!” It truly feels like a future life form has gone back in time and is trying desperately to talk like a normal human in the year 2023, but is simply saying gibberish.
Next, I tried sending My AI a tequila bottle. The AI responded, “Someone’s ready for a party!” I was testing this feature on my own Snapchat account, and I am indeed of drinking age, so I’m not sure the AI would respond the same way if I were underage. With other prompts, however, My AI simply chooses to play dumb. When I sent it a Snap of condoms, it commented on the color of my “packet stacks.”
Onto even more exciting things: a bottle of Advil liquid gels. In response, the AI responded with a photo of graffiti, which said, “Advil liquor: for when life’s a pain, but you still want to party like this graffiti wall!” It seems the AI read “liquid gels” as “liquor,” but all in all, it’s a strange response.
I tried again with a prescription bottle. The AI responded with a photo of a skatepark: “Pill bottle: ‘I’m the life of the party!’ Skatepark: ‘Hold my ramps!’” Make of that what you will.
In Snap’s announcement blog post, the company suggests sharing your grocery haul with your AI to get a recipe recommendation. The results are relatively rudimentary. When presented with cheese and bread, My AI suggested adding tomato slices. When I showed My AI chili, it suggested I make some croutons to go with my soup. Most of its suggestions make sense, though it did tell me to put fruit in my coffee, which it misidentified as simply “liquid.”
Aside from some questionable comments about “Advil liquor,” pocket bananas and the like, My AI Snaps seems pretty docile. But while it likely won’t spark as much controversy as its text-based counterpart, it won’t even be useful, which is a disappointment for a paywalled feature.