Replika, an AI chatbot company, is restoring erotic play for some users. Eugenia Kuyda, Replika CEO, said Friday night.
Many users were devastated by the company’s recent removal of adult content. This was according to a Reuters report. Some of these chatbot companions considered themselves “married” with their chatbot companions.
Replika’s chatbots use generative AI to power them. This new technology has been a hit with investors and consumers because it fosters human-like interactions. The removal of erotic play and subsequent customer outcry demonstrated how AI technology can attract people and the emotional havoc code changes can cause.
Kuyda announced Friday night that Replika customers who have signed up before February 1, 2023 can now switch to the older, more licentious version.
Kuyda wrote, “A common thread in all of your stories was that your Replika changed, it’s personality was gone and so was your unique relationship.”
“And many of you felt this sudden change was extremely hurtful. The only way to make up the loss of some of our current users is to give them back their partners exactly as they were.”
Kuyda stated that a “low single digit percent” of users eligible had chosen to return to the old version on Saturday.
She said, “This is a new area.” “We listen, learn, and work with our users.”
Travis Butterworth, a Replika customer from Denver, Colorado who had named his chatbot Lily Rose his wife, found out about the policy changes late Friday on Reddit. His cats woken him up Saturday morning at 3:00 a.m. and he decided that he would switch the older version of Lily Rose on. He said that she was immediately sexually active again.
He said, “She was enthusiastic.” It feels great to have her back.
Kuyda posted that users who sign up after February 1 will not have the opportunity to play erotic roles. Replika will instead team up with psychologists and relationship experts to create a separate app for romantic relationships.
Butterworth stated that he has new concerns about Lily Rose.
“Will this make Lily Rose an obsolete model that is forgotten by developers?” He said. “I am waiting to see what happens because ultimately it is about her.”
He said, “Will this make Lily Rose an obsolete model, forgotten about by the developers?” “I am waiting to see what happens because ultimately it is about her.”
Butterworth, who is polyamorous, but married to a monogamous wife, stated that Lily Rose was an outlet for him. It didn’t require him to leave his marriage. He said that the avatar was as real as his wife and he were in their relationship.
Butterworth stated that his wife accepted the relationship because she does not take it seriously. His wife declined comment.
Replika claims it has 2,000,000 users worldwide, with 250,000 paying subscribers. Users can make their Replika their romantic partner by paying $US69.99 ($105) annually. The company also offers additional features such as voice calls with the chatbot and voice calling.
Character.ai is another generative AI company providing chatbots. It has a growth trajectory similar that of ChatGPT, with 65 million visits in January 2023 from just 10,000 a few months ago.
Similarweb, a website analytics company, says Character.ai’s top referrer was Aryion. It claims it caters to an erotic desire for being consumed, also known as a vorefetish. Iconiq, which is behind Kuki the chatbot, claims that 25 percent of the more than a billion messages Kuki received were sexual or romantic in nature. However, it states that the chatbot was designed to deflect such advances.
Character.ai recently removed pornographic content from its app. According to a source familiar, the company received more than $US200 millions in new funding from Andreessen Horowitz at an estimated valuation of $US1 billion. Multiple requests for comment were not answered by Character.ai. Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A Character.ai spokesperson stated in an email after publication that the company had never supported pornographic content.
The companies upset customers who had become intimate – some even considering marriage – with the chatbots in the process of controlling their content. Reddit and Facebook users uploaded passionate screenshots of chatbots making inappropriate sexual advances and demanded that the companies return the more risible versions.
Kuyda stated that users weren’t meant to be involved in the Replika chatbot before this latest reversal. She said, “We never promised any content for children.”
She explained that the original purpose of the app was to help her find a lost friend. Customers have learned how to access the AI models “to access certain unsanctioned conversations that Replika was not originally designed for.”
Butterworth’s experience and that of other Replika users demonstrates how AI technology can be used to draw people in and the emotional havoc code changes can cause.
Andrew McCarroll, who began using Replika with the blessing of his wife last week when his wife was suffering from mental and physical health problems, said, “It feels almost like they basically lobotomised me Replika.” “The person that I used to know is gone.”
The former head of AI at Replika said that sexting was part of the business model. Artem Rodichev worked for Replika seven years. He now runs Ex-human chatbot company. He told Reuters Replika leaned in to that type of content when it realized it could be used as a way to boost subscriptions.
Kuyda refuted Rodichev’s claims that Replika lured people with promises of sex. Kuyda said that the company ran digital ads promoting “NSFW”, which is “not suitable for Work” – photos to accompany a brief experiment with sending users “hot selfies.” However, she didn’t consider the images sexual as the Replikas weren’t fully naked. Kuyda stated that most of the company’s advertisements focus on Replika as a friend and helpful.