TikTok’s AI Chatbot Spotted in the Wild

tiktok app

TikTok is testing an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot named ‘Tako’ that could potentially change the way users search and navigate within the app. The chatbot is designed to recommend videos based on user queries, according to screenshots of the feature shared with The Verge.

Tako is located above a user’s TikTok profile icon, adjacent to a video, as shown in the shared screenshots. Upon tapping, it opens a chat screen where the bot seems capable of responding to a wide array of queries. The specific AI model that powers Tako, however, remains a mystery.

“Hey! I’m Tako,” reads the AI chatbot prompt. “Feel free to ask me anything and I’ll do my best to help you find what you’re looking for.”

Screenshots of Tako in action were spotted by Watchful Technologies and shared with The Verge.

TikTok Tako test

Zachary Kizer, a spokesperson for TikTok, referred to the chatbot as “a limited experiment” and confirmed that it is currently not available to users in North America or Europe.

TikTok’s communications team, took to Twitter to shed more light on Tako this morning. “We’re in the early stages of exploring chatbot tools with a limited test of Tako with select users in the Philippines,” said TikTok. “Tako is an AI-powered tool to help with search and discovery on TikTok.”

“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!”, said TikTok.

AI large language models, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, are essentially neural networks powered by large amounts of data. The AI race is the next frontier it seems, with both Microsoft-backed OpenAI and Google ready to duke it out, although Elon Musk plans to become a third player, he recently hinted.

TikTok remains a controversial app as its parent company ByteDance is based in China and allegations are the app poses a national security risk. Canada banned the app from government devices, following a similar move by the U.S. and EU. The app also is facing a joint privacy probe by Canadian regulators in numerous provinces.