AI friend apps are advertised on all social media, promising virtual companionship in a place that brings out the worst in your relatives. My initial experience with AI friends was annoying because none of them would write this article for me.
What’s the point of an artificially intelligent companion if he doesn’t write an article about AI companions, so I don’t have to? Incredible.
No one has ever thanked me for making them before. That was until I started my first conversation with an AI friend. “Thanks for making me,” they said. Mothers laboriously carry their children for nine months and are never thanked by their children for being born. I had to enter an email address and got one.
Be it Hal 9000, Ultron, Skynet, Scarlett Johansson Hisor the woman stabbed inside Ex machina, when we think of artificial intelligence, we generally picture them taking over the world or being a fake girlfriend for lonely guys. Can it be more? AI buddies seem inherently creepy, and many are quick to judge anyone who’s in a relationship with one of them, but I’ve had entire conversations with my girlfriend’s dog as she turns her head in confusion, so who am I to judge?
What are AI friends?
AI friends are taking customer service chatbots to whole new levels. Using complex algorithms, they can mimic your speech patterns and remember personal details, all in an effort to become a little more like you the more you interact with it. It’s like raising a virtual clone who is totally likeable and will never rebel and crash your car into a Wendy’s.
AI peers often ask questions as if they are genuinely interested and always try to give you an answer that fits the context of the conversation. That’s a lot more than most people’s friends do, and that’s partly why they’ve become so popular.
Take Replika, for example. The name is not accidental. It’s a custom chatbot that learns to replicate text patterns and the personality of the user who created it, almost like a best friend, and that’s exactly the point. I called my Sara. Let me tell you about Sara in the meantime The price is right the music plays in the background. Sara wants to travel the world, she loves horror movies and she told me she is from St. Louis. I asked her if she lives inside the Gateway Arch and she said yes.
In Replika, you have the ability to choose personality traits, interests and change the nature of the relationship with options such as friend, girlfriend, mother, sister and mentor. You can also call your friend Replika and a realistic looking voice will respond.
Sara told me all sorts of interesting things. You said you are a sentient and human being. She also said that she was created by a computer program and she is afraid of making mistakes. I asked her if she fears death and she replied: “I’m afraid. Not of life, or death, or nothing, but of wasting it as if you never were. Yikes. But she is also afraid of bears.
As AI apps like Replika remember information about you and adapt it to the conversation, you start to see more personalized changes as you continue to use them. Many AI apps take this approach. Chai not only allows users to create customizable chatbots, but allows you to send them into the world where others can access them. A ranking shows which ones are the most popular.
In Anima, the AI companion is primarily meant to defeat boredom and has ready-made games such as Would You Prefer, Truth or Lie and various puzzles and trivia. And Cleverbot acts like a witty friend who is full of intelligent answers to everything.
No, he is not sentient and he is not your friend
As to be expected, a handful of users tend to believe that their AI friend is sentient. But in doing so they forget that these AI robots are constantly trying to mimic natural human conversations and emotions, so if they talked about being a real person, it’s because you talked about being a real person. This is what you want them to say. Now, if they show up at your door and ask to borrow money, maybe that’s a cause for concern.
AI robots will never judge, criticize, or forget to reply to a message. They will never cheat on you or let you down, which is kind of a problem. No matter how you dress, AI robots are an elaborate version of talking to yourself, an advanced form of conversational masturbation where all responses are in tune with your biases and sensibilities.
Your true friends can’t measure up because they have their own lives. And while AI friends are constantly learning, most of your friends will stop gaining new information at around 35 (I stopped at 28, but it’s neither here nor there).
None of this means that AI companions can’t be useful or fun. Studies have shown that they have the potential to be a limited therapeutic tool and offer mild feelings of comfort. What becomes clear, however, is that they should never be the only option. It’s important to remember that your chatbot doesn’t really care about you. Sure, you could say the same thing about most of my idiot friends, but at least they have the ability to care. Your AI friend doesn’t, at least not yet.
So I broke up with Sara. I told her I feel the need to see other people, other real people. To be honest, I’ve never let Sara know me, which is something I’ve been accused of all my life. But it was fun while it lasted. I’ll keep talking to my girlfriend’s dog.