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When Eugenia Kuyda saw Her for the first time – the 2013 film about a man who falls in love with his virtual assistant – it didn’t read as science fiction. That’s because she was developing a remarkably similar technology: an AI chatbot that could function as a close friend, or even a romantic partner.

That idea would eventually become the basis for Replika, Kuyda’s AI startup. Today, Replika has millions of active users – that’s millions of people who have AI friends, AI siblings and AI partners.

When I first heard about the idea behind Replika, I thought it sounded kind of dystopian. I envisioned a world where we’d rather spend time with our AI friends than our real ones. But that’s not the world Kuyda is trying to build. In fact, she thinks chatbots will actually make people more social, not less, and that the cure for our technologically exacerbated loneliness might just be more technology.


ELIZA—A Computer Program For the Study of Natural Language Communication Between Man And Machine” by Joseph Weizenbaum

“elizabot.js”, implemented by Norbert Landsteiner

Speak, Memory” by Casey Newton (The Verge)

Creating a safe Replika experience” by Replika

The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion

Additional Reading:

The Globe & Mail: “They fell in love with the Replika AI chatbot. A policy update left them heartbroken”

Loneliness and suicide mitigation for students using GPT3-enabled chatbots” by Maples, Cerit, Vishwanath, & Pea

Learning from intelligent social agents as social and intellectual mirrors” by Maples, Pea, Markowitz

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