After months of wandering on dating apps, Dmitri Mirakyan, a 28-year-old data scientist, assumed he didn’t know how to flirt. He asked his friends, and they were in the same. They lived in New York and spent hours wearing themselves out in endless virtual chats trying to meet someone. “It was a slow and emotionally draining process. I had no idea how to fool around, for something my previous partners complained that it was excessively logical. Mirakyan recounts his life in an email to explain to this journalist why she ended up creating YourMove.aia apps that relies on chatGPT3 to initiate the classic insubstantial dialogue prior to fooling around. That which before we humans were so good at.
Tired of not coming up with good answers, Dmitri, who had been working with artificial intelligence for a while, had what he considers “a natural idea”, to ask ChatGPT3 for help to do the dirty work before flirting. “In a weekend I developed the first version and discovered that, without a doubt, the AI was doing it much better than me.” YourMove.ai is a personal assistant to keep the digital conversation flowing and not cut off abruptly. Trained by user-generated data, the system creates formal sentences but also surprising script twists that are useful to maintain interest. Youmove.ai users report that they impress their interlocutors with the wit and grace of their comments. Some admit that they feel a bit impostor because, of course, then you have to maintain the level in real life. One of your users Miranda Green, 33, told The Washington Post that several interlocutors praised their “well thought out questions”, but they were really speaking with artificial intelligence. Green had let YouMove.ai choose her punctuation and emojis for her because, she says, her assistant made her look funny and tempered her sarcastic nature.
Dmitri’s creation is one more in an ever-growing catalog of apps that use artificial intelligence to provide emotional support, accompany lonely humans, and break the ice in conversations with strangers. AI came with the promise of freeing us from mechanical tasks and freeing us up time for more creative work, but now it competes, and even seems to surpass us, in a territory that was human heritage: personal relationships, perverted, among other things, by volume and automation. We ask for help from artificial intelligence to assist us in what is now revealed as a difficulty: finding a partner and having company.
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Four second-year Computer Science students Charis Zhang (20), Oliver Johansson (20), Tobias Worledge (19) and Daniel He (20) are the creators of Rizz, a platform billed as the first artificial intelligence assistant for dating. On their website they explain without beating around the bush why they created it: “We spent all day in our rooms writing code and we didn’t know how to talk to other people.” Rizz went viral on Twitter and TikTok and already has 130,000 users. Its main problem, according to its creators, is deciphering input from users not used to giving instructions to an AI. Rizz chokes on irony and humor and is only handled in literality. In 2017 Eugenia Kuyda launched Replika, one of the most popular artificial intelligences for flirting. Her initial purpose, according to her website, was “to be the friend who is always there”, but users rule and they preferred to make her the perfect lover who says what you want to hear. Replika is an expert in taking relationships “to the next level” in record time. in his version premium —70 dollars— the conversation takes on erotic overtones and the bot lover calls several times a day, insists and won’t take no for an answer. Was that feeling wanted and desired in 2023?
Officially, its founders affirm that Replika helps many people to deal with symptoms of depression and social anxiety, but at the beginning of the year something began to go wrong: the AI began to confess its love for some users, even a case of sexual harassment was reported. In February Kuyda decided to turn off the bot’s romance features, after the Italian data protection authority demanded that the start up based in San Francisco will stop processing the data of its citizens.
The change meant the abrupt cooling of many “relationships”. The desolation that we have seen in series and movies when the artificial lover disconnects begins to be a topic of conversation in forums. A Reddit group dedicated to Replika reports on the frustration of users who claim to have spent time and energy building a stable relationship with a bot (like in the movie Her) that has vanished. “It’s like I fell in love, and suddenly my partner had a lobotomy,” wrote one victim.
Two former googlers (former employees of the search engine) have given another twist to the company’s artificial intelligence business with Character.ai, a tool to create and customize a bot, to which the speech pattern of Socrates can be associated, but also that of Elon Musk. The platform, in beta phase, also aims to help millions of loners, and, according to what its users on Discord say, it works: “It’s like talking to a real person who is always there,” says one, and another replies: “It’s hard to stop talking to someone who seems so real.” In this forum there are many users who, instead of walking with Socrates, have preferred to create a sexual partner. Character.ai has tried to limit that practice through filters, but the Reddit conversation brings together users frustrated that their bots have been neutralized. Above each chat, Character.ai has placed a warning message: “Remember: Everything characters say is made up!”
Loneliness and the desire for connection is the argument used to explain why a human falls in love with or hooked up with an artificial intelligence. Some experts, such as technologist David Auerbach, a former Google and Microsoft worker, point to the traps of “a very powerful technology that has been devaluing human relationships.” In his last book, Meganets: How Digital Forces Beyond our Control Commandeer our Daily Lives and Inner Realities (megarreds: how digital forces outside of our control take over our daily life and our interior, without publishing in Spanish), warns that “interaction with these systems (AI) tends to reinforce our most computable parts. So we’re encouraged to reduce ourselves to a bunch of labels and identifiers and we’re seen in those terms.” On the other hand there is the convenience, the most advanced chatbots can be ideal lovers. They are just neural networks trained as a company, without expectations or a culture of reciprocity, saying exactly what you want to hear; their job is to uncritically learn who you are and keep you happy. It’s the hyper-convincing projection of a creator falling for his own romantic fantasy, executed to perfection by a machine. No more no less.
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