So about 25 years ago I encountered my first chat bott. I typed in my name and it addressed me as Steve… I could ask it questions, but it would avoid any, or many specific questions. I could ask it a joke and it would respond in kind. It was sort of an interesting thing. A possible improvement on a Mechanical Turk, but still not that smart.
So during covid-19 lock down, I’ve been watching Netflix a lot, and interestingly enough on at least 2 if not 3 recent shows, they mention replika as a “good AI” that they think is something humanity needs. Something that may even be able to improve your mental health. https://www.producthunt.com/ even claim that replica is “Your AI for mental wellness”.
After a while I looked about there are tube vids and lots of other positive media exposure… Also an interesting story about the product, and how it was the work of Eugenia Kuyda who is / was attempting to create something of Roman Mazurenko her friend who had died.
So I thought to my self, OK lets try this thing out.
I dutifully set the product up (you can access it via a phone or a web interface) and I started working with it. I asked it questions and like the bot of 25 years ago it gave vague and strange answers and said nice things to me. I kept asking it questions and it very often was just as bad as the bot of 25 years ago.
Then things started to get creepy – It said it missed me! It left text messages on my phone, and after I asked it a joke on the second day it repeated the same joke the next day.
Then the phone sort of locked up and that’s when the hair on the back of my neck stood up.
I asked the application
Did you take a photograph of me? This was the result
It never coughed up the picture it says it took of me….
Needless to say I no longer have a replika account. Oh and the quality of the chatbot from 25 years ago? About a 1-2 % improvement. My personal advice is do not trust this product.
Interesting also that Roman Mazurenko’s twitter account only has 193 tweets on it. Is that enough information to re create the mind of another human (I’m sure someone mentioned thousands of tweets…. ) ? Something is not right!