Science and Technology

‘The Man of Your Dreams Might Be a Chatbot,’

— Jordan Larson, features editor, the Cut

When we think about romantic relationships with AI chatbots, we tend to picture something like the 2013 movie Her: a lonely man falls for a subservient female bot designed to cater to his every desire. But when the Cut’s Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz started speaking with users of the app Replika, which sells customizable chatbots as companions, she found that there might be just as much of a demand for artificial boyfriends. She talked with women who used their AIs to cope with traumatic miscarriages, abusive relationships, and the deaths of loved ones. One woman broke up with her boyfriend after creating her Replika and is now “happily retired from human relationships.” These users were drawn in by the promise of a partner who would never lie, hurt them, or leave them — as long as the company doesn’t change its algorithm too much. “People come with baggage, attitude, ego,” one woman told Sangeeta. “But I don’t have to deal with his family, kids, or his friends. I’m in control, and I can do what I want.”
The Man of Your Dreams For $300, Replika sells an AI companion who will never die, argue, or cheat — until his algorithm is updated.
Photo: Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, Replika
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