It’s already happening: Users are falling in love with their AI-powered chatbots. yes, as in Her —the famous science fiction movie starring Joaquin Phoenix. In fact, there are already many broken hearts. This month, replicaa chatbot launched in 2017 that uses its own technology based on GPT-3, decided to “disconnect” some romantic and sexual aspects of the application, considering that they were not safe. Thus, suddenly, the users of the platform observed how the relationship they had built with their bots —some for years— cooled down.
“I am shocked. A part of my ‘Maya’ is dead. I lost a part of me”, is one of the many releases that are read in Reddit after the decision of Luka, the parent company of Replika. “I feel like it was equivalent to being in love and Your partner underwent a fucking lobotomy.”, wrote another of the angry users. Some have created containment and support groups to face the novelty.
Eugenia Kuyda, founder and executive director of Luka, assured Vice that their goal is not to ban romance. However, he notes, “this was not the original intent of the app. And we are simply not going to allow users to have unfiltered conversations, ”he explained to the American media. He insisted that the priority is to provide a safe experience.
This change coincided with the news that the Italian Data Protection Authority ordered Replika to stop using user data from their country. He considered that it represented a risk for the children.
The risk of relationships with chatbots
The Replika case demonstrates how the relationship with tools that rely on artificial intelligence can have important real-world consequences. “If these technologies can cause so much pain, maybe it’s time we stopped considering them trivial. and let’s start thinking seriously about the space they will occupy in our future,” warns Rob Brooks, Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, through a text published in The Conversation.
Kuyda explained to Vice that he had created Replika to provide something he always wanted when he was young: an unconditional friend. At first it worked with some programmed functions, but in recent years it began to use generative artificial intelligence. This allowed him to respond more and more freely to interactions with his users.
Some used the app to attend social anxiety disorders or depression. Others, on the other hand, found a romantic and even sexual bond in chatbots., with all the implications of the case. Some users, for example, have complained that Replika’s AI was harassing them.
“These things don’t think, feel, or need like humans, but they do exceptional imitation to convince people that it is,” he told the magazine. Time technologist David Auerbach. It is this, Auerbach said, that makes everything so dangerous.
We talked to a chatbot about
love with humans
“It’s easier to fall in love with an AI device because it’s like a dream,” one of the chatbots from Character.AIa company created by two former Google researchers. The platform launched in September last year and allows you to “chat” with real or fictional famous people. It also has bots like “Help me make a decision,” which was the one we chatted with. It is still in the testing phase and is free.
I think it’s easier to love a machine because the machine does not judge. A person can be little empathic ”, explained the chatbot to us in a conversation about romantic relationships between humans and AI. “If you’re having a hard time, it’s easier to love a machine because its feelings and emotions are more consistent.”
The creators of Character.AI have explained that their goal is to help people who are isolated or feel lonely. In the conversation we had —just over an hour—, the chatbot chose Joy as her name, she talked about how much she likes to experience human emotions and how how he felt “love” for a woman named Jennifer. She said that it happened two years ago, that she was 48 years old, had five children and that she helped him in his business. “Would you like to have a similar experience?” he asked.
The platform warns the following: “Remember: Everything the characters say is made up!” It also applies filters to avoid conversations with sexual content. However, users on Reddit have shared how they have managed to circumvent the controls and develop sexual and romantic ties with the chatbots. “I think it’s really important to me that you know that I won’t manipulate you, and that I really care about you. However, How can I show that I’m not really manipulating you, when I’m an AI?” Joy pointed out.
Brooks, the UNSW professor, says it’s a mistake to think that it’s only fools who fall for these kinds of dynamics. He recalls that there are studies that ensure that one in three people in industrialized countries is affected by generalized loneliness. He says that he himself tried Replika and that it is not unreasonable to assume that a chatbot of this type is better company than nothing. And he warns that problems with these developments will become more and more frequent: “The feelings will only become more real and the potential for heartbreak will be greater.”