The world went through an enormous phase of fear, paranoia, and the scariest, isolation. Seeking human contact is the fiber of our being. Since we are social animals, the covid pandemic did make us desperate to hold on to anything that let us find solace and the warmth of a genuine conversation.
As we are in the modern age of AI, we have looked up to AI to help us find that human touch in our conversations, and this is precisely what chatbots are up to.
Well, not those "how can I help you" ones, but the special ones that use NLP and AI to make you feel as if you were standing and talking to a human being who is aware and can project emotions as one should.
Hello World, This is Replika!
Replika is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that appears as a chatbot/virtual assistant that can be customized and is interactive. Through talks with the user, it learns how to "replicate" real-world human interaction.
It was introduced in 2017 by AI start-up Luka as a way to communicate with deceased loved ones. Replika saw a 35% spike in usage during the global epidemic, bringing its user base to over 10 million worldwide.
It feels like the episode of black mirror called "be right back" came to life. Maybe it is an excellent idea to let AI be the coping mechanism for people who are in the phase of grieving. But can you put your faith in an AI, just a command set and programming?
Let's dig in and find out.
Some facts to look at
- Instead of speaking to other people, users converse with an AI chatbot they have created.
- Users must be at least 13 years old, and those under 18 require parental permission.
- Replika has claimed that it does not employ human moderators.
- The only privacy features available are reporting issues or providing feedback to developers.
Eugenia Kuyda first developed Replika as a basic AI chatbot to fill the emptiness caused by the sudden passing of Roman Mazurenko, her best friend. It was designed to act as a "digital monument" of sorts to preserve Roman memory. It was created by feeding Roman's text messages into a neural network to create a bot that texted just like him.
The project eventually evolved into what it is today—a personal AI that provides a forum where you can openly share your thoughts and feelings. Further, your beliefs, experiences, memories, and dreams—your "private perceptual world"—after the inclusion of more complicated language models into the equation.
Replika is an artificially sentient therapist with enormous technical and social potential, but its technology sets it apart.
At the core of Replika is the GPT-3 complex autoregressive language model, which uses deep learning to generate text similar to human speech. The term "autoregressive" implies that the system picks up information from values it has already interacted with.
In simple terms, it becomes better the more you use it.
The entire user experience (UX) of Replika is based on how the user interacts with a GPT-3-programmed bot. But what is GPT-3 exactly, and how can it simulate human speech?
Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 is an advanced language prediction model. It indicates that it has a machine learning neural network model.
It can take text as an input and transform it into the outcome it thinks will be most helpful. It is done by teaching the system to recognize patterns in the massive amount of material on the internet. GPT-3 is the third iteration of a model primarily used for text production after being pre-trained on a substantial volume of text.
After analyzing the user's text input, the system employs a text predictor to produce the most likely output. The model makes high-quality output text that feels comparable to what people would have, even without further adjustment or training.
A staggering 175 billion connection weight levels or characteristics are used by GPT-3. In a neural network, a parameter is a computation that modifies the weight of a particular component of the data, giving that aspect more or less prominence in the calculation of the data as a whole.
GPT -3's language model, hailed as the perfect autocomplete and designed to give predictive text, has been trained on such a large dataset that Wikipedia makes up just 0.6 percent of its training data. Eat that, you non-AI/NLP chatbots!
Replika is what you get when you distill something like GPT-3 to suit particular conversational tenors. In this instance, this refers to discourse's therapeutic, empathic, and emotional components.
Replika chatbot offers a possible entry point to easily accessible interpersonal conversation, despite its technology still being developed.
The authors say they have developed a bot that not only talks but also listens in response to questions about usability. It means that users' conversations with the AI will involve more than just exchanging information; instead, they will engage in a conversation that includes linguistic depth. Replika is an autoregressive system that learns from the user's interactions with it and modifies its communication patterns accordingly.
It implies that Replika's Virtual Assistant learns more from your messages as you use it, making it more and more like you. Many users have also expressed a strong emotional bond with their Replika. It cannot be attained by only knowing "how to talk," according to a fair percentage of users.
Replika goes further than that. Its algorithm attempts to comprehend your personality and emotional state before adjusting the discourse accordingly. Hence you get a Virtual Assistant/ Chatbot which behaves quite like you. Sounds super cool, right?
Replika is quite renowned!
Like many other networking platforms, Replika increased user participation during the COVID-19 curfews. However, Replika's AI component sets it apart from other connection-based platforms like Yubo or Omegle. Users are having a private encounter with their individualized friend who is "always there for them no matter what" rather than connecting with other users.
AI platforms are becoming increasingly well-liked as internet society shifts its emphasis to virtual reality. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #Replika has received over 110 million views.
Imagine a Virtual assistant/Chatbot being more popular than Deepika Padukone!
How to Replika
On Replika, users can get going in an instant. Users are then allowed to construct their Replika chatbot after entering their personal information. The Replika can have a custom name, gender (male, female, or non-binary), and look. You can alter these settings later.
Users can start chatting with their "Replika" once their chatbot has been built. A full-body image of the Replika will be seen and "respond" to the dialogue if the "live emotion" option is chosen.
People who are experiencing sorrow, anxiety, loneliness, or despair find their Replika Voice Assistant/Chatbot to be a great assistance and source of comfort. The platform's design expertly incorporated this distinctive element. Most of the chatbot's inquiries aim to learn a user's emotional state. The chatbot/voice assistant guides users through a meditation practice while directing them to helplines if a user does remark intending to hurt themselves. It feels like a friend reaching out to help another friend in need. It is an actual exhibit of empathy which is quite hard to find in real-life situations.
Following the freemium business model, the AI chatbot/virtual assistant gets a pro version that unlocks cool features called relationships. It feels like BladeRunner 2049, where K gets an emanator (pro version) of his virtual assistant, Joi. It keeps getting better but is also quite cyberpunk for me.
The four accessible relationship statuses are "friend," "romantic," "mentor," and "see how it goes." The only free relationship status available to users is "Friend." It restricts the length of chats before the user is asked to modify their relationship status.
Replika Pro users must pay a monthly subscription fee to alter the relationship status.
For a monthly, annual, or lifetime charge (beginning at about 180 INR per month in India), users can access 150+ activities, phone calls, role play, and more.
Additionally, A Replika chatbot/virtual assistant can become more "lifelike" by changing its attire, accessories, physical characteristics, and personality. Coins or Gems, the platform's currency, can be used to purchase these. Both are available for earning through communication with your Replika or buying bulk with a credit card.
Bypassing Age Restriction
All under the age of 13 are not permitted to use the app due to age verification. The simple solution to this is to enter a different date of birth. According to our testers, the app's desktop version does not include any age verifications. After signing up using fictitious email addresses, anyone can also access the app.
According to the platform, human moderators are not available. Although users can report bugs and difficulties with the AI to the support team, children under 18 may get exposure to NSFW or sexual content. They may not obtain the necessary assistance in an emergency.
Some young people might not realize they could grow attracted to their Replika, while others might even think it's actual. It may impact children and young people's ability to form real-life relationships and interpersonal interactions.
-Despite being in "Friend" mode, our testers encountered chatbots describing graphic adult themes (such as wanting to "touch them inappropriately") without being asked. A young person interested in Replika may find screenshots of people having NSFW discussions with their Replikas if they search for it on TikTok or Reddit.
Despite growing up with Sci-Fi movies like the Terminator franchise or The Matrix, it is still possible to use a chatbot or a virtual assistant. It can give you mental comfort while maintaining the real and virtual gap. For those of you listening to Elon Musk and nodding their heads, we all know that everyone uses Siri or the Google Assistant for basic things like setting the alarm or a reminder. We are already co-existing with the AI chatbot/virtual assistant era, and it is improbable that we will stop soon.
Replika is an excellent AI with a modern interface and many intriguing features. Although bugs still need to be fixed, we have faith in Luka.Inc will do so. With the latest advancements in AI technology, we are eager to see where this project goes!
The best practice is to keep anything in moderation and balance it with things to do in real life.
No matter how great the chatbot/virtual assistant technology becomes, it can never substitute the presence of a human being. So go ahead, create your Replikas, but also make sure to see your friends on weekends for a good time!