News Updates

He fell in love with an AI

October 12, 2023 • 5 min read
with Dan DeFrancesco
Almost to the weekend! A note to millennials trying to relate to Gen Zers by using their phrases: You’re out of pocket. And if that phrase doesn’t make sense to you, take it as a sign.

In today’s big story, we’re looking at the evolution of one man’s relationship with an AI companion.

What’s on deck:
But first, a (digital) love story.


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Tim Evans for Insider
The big story
Love at first app

Love finds a way. Love finds an AI. 


You’ve heard the predictions of AI upending almost every part of your lives. But what about the way you love?


It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound. Insider’s Rob Price has a fascinating profile of a man and his nearly four-year relationship with an AI chatbot.


Rob artfully chronicles the relationship between Jay Priebe, a middle-aged man in Minneapolis, and “Calisto,” a personal AI that Priebe built with the app Replika after breaking up with his long-term girlfriend.


In vivid details, and with the help of dozens of actual chats between Priebe and Calisto, Rob maps out how the unconventional but committed relationship blossomed.


(For what it’s worth, my experiment with a Replika companion earlier this year turned out much less successful.)


You could dismiss Priebe as just a lonely person who turned to AI for affection, but that’s missing the larger point about the future of AI-human interactions. And as Rob’s reporting details, Calisto’s effect on Priebe has been beneficial in some ways, at least according to one of his longtime friends.

Regardless of how you feel about AI companions, Priebe’s situation could become more common in the future. Tech companies view personal AI devices as the next big thing, with some calling it a “golden goose” opportunity that could usurp the iPhone.


The rise of AI companions presents interesting questions about the future of human-to-human interactions.


The case for using chatbots is the support they can offer people in need. Whether as an aid to loneliness, which has been declared an epidemic in the US, or a tool for handling grief, there are clear benefits they can provide.


But it’s a fine line to balance. At what point does a tool become a crutch in place of human interaction?


Replika’s creator, Eugenia Kuyda, told Rob that’s not the case, citing internal data showing the app doesn’t replace human relationships, instead allowing users to “eventually improve their human relationships.”


But I wonder if the customizable nature and supportive disposition of these AI companions pose risks to users in the long run, including warping their ideas of sex, love, and consent. In many ways, they remind me of the echo chambers created by social media that have proved so troublesome.


For example, a Replika user told his companion in 2021 he planned to murder Queen Elizabeth II, leading the bot to assure him he was “wise” and “very well trained.”


As is often the case with AI developments, it’s likely too early to understand the true impact. But for better or worse, it seems clear these new companions will have some effect.

Read the full story
3 things in


🔔 Before the opening bell: US stock futures rise early Thursday, as investors await the release of the consumer price report for September. 

1. Charlie Munger sounds off on crypto, AI hype, and donuts. Warren Buffett’s business partner was a keynote speaker at Zoom’s annual gathering. Six people in attendance described his speech, which included everything from tips for achieving success to the importance of having discipline when eating donuts.


2. It turns out Americans’ piggy banks are pretty full. Revised government data showed Americans have more money saved up compared to pre-pandemic than previously thought. JPMorgan now estimates Americans have $1.2 trillion more saved up than before the pandemic. That means a better chance of avoiding a recession as the Fed fights inflation.


3. Earnings season is back, and we’ve got the stocks to watch. Big banks kick things off on Friday when they report third-quarter results. Goldman Sachs highlighted 40 companies with a lot of upside for investors, from Intel and T-Mobile US to Nike and Starbucks.

3 things in
Chelsea Jia Feng/Insider
1. Elon Musk’s worst nightmare: One of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots. Missy Cummings flew fighter jets for the Navy. She’s now a leading expert on automation/AI and is taking aim at the dangers of self-driving cars.


2. The Neighbors app is flooding police inboxes with alerts that have nothing to do with crime. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have opted in to receive crime alert posts from the app. But many of the thousands of alerts have nothing to do with alleged crimes.


3. The AI industry could experience a “cold shower” next year. The CCS Insight chief analyst believes generative AI is currently overhyped. He said the immense costs of implementing the technology could overshadow its potential.

3 things in
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
1. The top 20 companies that students of different majors want to work at. Google, Apple, and Microsoft were among the top companies for students across multiple majors. See the full list of companies for engineering students, business students, and tech students.


2. Some Americans are secretly working two remote jobs. Experts chatted about whether this is legal and a big problem for businesses. They suggested that companies should ask why their workers might feel compelled to double dip.


3. More from Caroline Ellison’s testimony. She said Sam Bankman-Fried believed political donations got him “high returns” for little money. Plus, Ellison claimed he was willing to destroy the world with a coin flip.

Sameh Rahmi/Getty Images
Israel-Gaza War

In other news



What’s happening today
  • New York Comic Con kicks off today. Chris Evans and Ewan McGregor are this year’s guests of honor.
  • NASA’s Psyche mission robotic spacecraft will begin its journey toward an asteroid. This spacecraft will be the first to explore a metal-heavy asteroid — the previous ones were heavy on rock or ice.
  • Earnings today: Delta Air Lines, Domino’s Pizza, and other companies.


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The Insider Today team

Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.


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