Adult chatbot that learns
Just a couple of months after Replika rolled out, a team of Stanford psychologists and AI experts launched its most direct competition: Woebot, a robot that’s “ready to listen, 24/7.” Woebot’s offering is a bit more structured than Replika’s: Woebot offers cognitive behavioral therapy exercises, video links, mood trackers, and conversations that max out at 10 minutes.Research suggests that people open up more easily to computers than humans, in part because they are less likely to fear judgment, stigma, or violations of privacy.Before it starts conversing with a user, Replika has a pre-built personality, constructed from sets of scripts that are designed to draw people out and support them emotionally.Tag Hartman-Simkins“Once they open up, the magic happens,” Kuyda told Futurism.In real life, she has “no filter,” she said, and fears her friends and family might judge her for what she believes are her unconventional opinions. Life wisdom is hard-earned, popular psychology teaches us. As detailed in a story published by , Kuyda was devastated when her friend Roman Mazurenko died in a hit-and-run car accident.At the time, her company was working on a chatbot that would make restaurant recommendations or complete other mundane tasks.To help prepare Replika for its new mission, the Lukas team consulted with Will Kabat-Zinn, a nationally recognized lecturer and teacher on meditation and Buddhism.
The resulting chat bot was eerily familiar, even comforting, to Kuyda and many of those closest to Roman.When word got out, Kuyda was suddenly flooded with messages from people who wanted to create a digital double of themselves or a loved one who had passed.Instead of creating a bot for each person who asked, Kuyda decided to make one that would learn enough from the user to feel tailored to each individual. But the mission behind Replika soon shifted, said Kuyda.Even though conversations with ELIZA often took bizarre turns, and even when those conversing with ELIZA knew she was not human, many people developed emotional attachments to the chatbot — a development that shocked Weizenbaum.Their affection for the bot so disturbed him that he ended up killing the research project, and became a vocal opponent of advances in AI.