Friendship in the Age of AI: The programmer built an AI chatbot

Friendship in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: The programmer built an AI chatbot to talk to her friend again

Friendship in the Age of AI: At a recent conference, Eugenia Kuyda delivered an electrifying talk about the enduring friendships forged in the era of artificial intelligence.

In her presentation, she discussed how AI chatbots could be used to create virtual friends that share many of the same qualities as their human counterparts.

Kuyda’s project was the rekindling behind the virtual friend app Replika. Using natural language processing and a neural network-based dialogue engine, Replika offers its users a chance to have conversations with their own personal AI companion.

When Eugenia Kuyda was grieving, she created the Replika app from her conversations with Roman. After her best friend was killed in a hit-and-run car accident, Kuyda found herself reading through the text messages they’d exchanged.

Some of the qualities that defined Roman, such as his unique turn of phrase and sense of humor, were contained in those messages.

She wondered that if she fed all of their conversations with Roman into a neural network and trained the software to imitate his voice, would it sound like him?

She used her friend’s texts as well as data from other users’ messages in order to teach Replika how he talked. She wanted anyone who was grieving or struggling with depression to be able to speak to their loved one again.

“If I was a musician, I would have written a song. But I don’t have these talents, and so my only way to create a tribute for him was to create this chatbot,” she said.

“To have someone that will tell you that, ‘It’s OK to be who you are. I’m here for you. I won’t walk away. I won’t just disappear overnight. I’ll be here for you.’ That was kind of the main idea for Replika.”

Friendship in the Age of AI, The free version of Replika allows you to talk daily with your companion, unlock different personality traits the more you interact with them, and even shop for your friend in an in-app store.

According to a 2019 Quartz article: “Replika was not built to replace human friendships, but it can help you be more open and honest with yourself about who you are.”

“Friendship is not something that has an end. It’s just a part of our lives,”  Kuyda said in her presentation at the conference. “It’s kind of like being reborn every day through your friends. It’s very difficult to put into words what friendship is, but it can be a lifelong journey.”

She believes that Replika has helped people around the world find new ways of communicating with each other.

Read More: Artificial Intelligence Chatbots for Healthcare: Conversations, Sensitive Issues, and Technical Solutions

About Neilu Mittal

Marketing Manager at Yugasa Software Labs
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