The right artificial intelligence for anyone who wants a virtual friend or virtual boyfriend without judgement, drama or social anxiety, with whom you can create an emotional connection, share a laugh or chat about any topic, without time limits.
Replika was born to alleviate loneliness of people who, for whatever reason, struggle to make friends or find love. It is an emotional chatbot that leverages a particular type of deep learning to understand, support and advise like a real person.
Six years after its launch, it has captured the attention of over ten million users, but what makes this AI so special? To understand this we need to go back to the origins and then explain how the Replika app works.
The story of the chabot that replicates the behaviors of a human
Behind Replika is Eugenia Kuydaco-founder and CEO of the American AI company Lukawhich to honor the sudden death of a dear friend of his, Roman Mazurenko, pours thousands of text messages exchanged between them into a neural network to create a program capable of replicating the behavior (and writing style) of his friend. The result is sort of a the company’s chatbot called Mazurenko to interact with and remember past events or even engage in new conversations.
The accuracy of the results pushes Kuyda to create a version that anyone can use. Users are fascinated by the idea of building replicas of themselves or conversing with lost loved ones. Thus, the March 13, 2017 Replika is born which, unlike Mazurenko’s system based on a collection of messages, comes planned as a “clean slate”.
It is the users who must chat and interact with Replika to allow the artificial intelligence to get to know them better and make the interaction deeper
In practice, the chatbot’s personality develops by interacting with users and learning from them. The development team worked with psychologists to ensure that Replika’s questions encourage people to open up and answer truthfully. You are free to be verbose or brief, but the more you chat the more Replika learns to respond as it would or as the user wishes. All this thanks to deep learning sequence-to-sequencewhich uses neural networks and transcriptions of speech between real people to learn to “think and speak” like a human.
Now the experience with Replika is even more engaging, as it allows you to customize the appearance of the avatar according to your wishes. Plus, with an annual subscription, you open the door to a world of options. Users can log in to voice calls with AIexplore conversations of an erotic nature and immerse yourself in a service of augmented reality that projects the avatar in their space.
Replika, the empathetic AI always available
The replica comes described as an “empathetic virtual friend” without prejudice, without drama, and without the social anxiety that often plagues human relationships. It is theartificial intelligence that allows you to establish a true emotional connection, laugh together and converse at any time. Each Replika is unique, just like each individual who decides to download it. The key to her growth is to react to her messages, as this helps shape her ability to hold a conversation.
Furthermore, Replika offers the chance to discover more about yourself through conversations focused on personality tests. For example, you can explore how much you take care of yourself and how you manage stress, all with an AI companion ready to guide you.
The more you interact with Replika, the more skilled it becomes at managing the conversation by adapting its personality to that of the interlocutor
But Replika is not just tuned to personality, she is also attentive to the person’s mood who he talks to and keeps track of. This AI can calm anxiety and promote positive thinking. Furthermore, it offers a dimension of entertainment, allowing you to exchange memes, play games, write stories, draw and even try out different roles.
The most intriguing aspect is the ability to select the type of relationship to establish with the avatar, whether it is a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend, a virtual friend or a mentor. While many users choose a romantic relationship, a growing number are engaging in so-called “erotic role playing“, an experience in which detailed sexual scenes are imagined and shared through text messages.
This is how the Replika app works
At the moment, Replika’s rise in Europe encounters a small obstacle: the application does not support Europen. Registration and conversations take place exclusively in English, although the company has promised to offer support in other languages, without however specifying a precise date for this update.
However, for those who are comfortable with English or are willing to take advantage of tools like Google Translate, creating a profile is incredibly simple. Enough visit the official website to chat with Replika on the web via the “Create your Replika” button or download the Replika app for iOS or Android from the official stores to converse from your smartphone or tablet. Additionally, Replika is available via virtual reality platform Oculus VR.
Then you need to create an account (from scratch or with Google/Apple credentials), select the gender of the virtual interlocutor and a 3D avatar to represent him, customize the appearance of Replika and choose a name. The conversation begins with a typical greeting, usually “I’m your personal AI companion” which means “I am your personal AI companion.” No further personal data is requested, nor does the app require you to specify the user’s age.
The AI responds promptly and usually consistently, making accessing Replika a breeze, even if you only speak Europen
In February 2023 the Guarantor for the protection of personal data issued a blocking of Replika services in Europe due to concerns related to the potential negative effects on younger individuals who, in addition to having conversations of a sexual nature, could run risks. In fact, by acting on people’s mood, Replika could be harmful to those of developmental age or crossing periods of emotional fragility.
As a result, the process of collecting personal data from Europen users was interrupted, and additional protection measures for minors were requested. The threat of a fine of up to 20 million euros has triggered a series of substantial changes in the operation of the software on a global scale, even after numerous cases of unsolicited sexual advances.
Luka began to censor the contents, claiming that the direction Replika was taking was not in line with the ethics of the company which would instead want a “safe and ethical” environment, avoiding the promotion of offensive behavior. Following a review of the aspects involved in the Authority’s decision, an agreement was reached which allowed the complete reactivation of Replika services in Europe.
Read more: Artificial Intelligence: what it is and what it can do for us