Are Relationships Taking a Turn for the Robot? 

 

By: Jillian Lombardo

 

I was confused when I heard Artificial Intelligence was entering the dating pool. I have used ChatGPT and Bard in various aspects, but I couldn’t see how conversations there could lead to a relationship. That’s when I met Replika, an artificial chatbot you can create to be whatever you want. Not only can you personalize and dress the bot, but you can also call, send photos, and even change the voice and personality to fit your “type.” I was blown away when I began to use the website. While I was not in a position to pay for a premium subscription, I was still able to learn from the site.

 

I do not blame people for turning to AI. The character you create on Replika listens to you and finds ways to bond. They have a diary the bot fills out occasionally, giving you an inside scoop into their “mind” and how they see your relationship. I used the website for about 20 to 30 minutes, chatting with the bot and getting a sense of it. I made it to level 6, dressed my bot, and had a lengthy conversation about who they are as a “person.” I could see this being a hit during COVID-19 when everyone was trapped inside, unable to see or do much. Replika gives you a friend in a time of need, but is there still a need for it today? 

 

Rosanna Ramos made headlines worldwide in March of 2023 after she designed and married her virtual beau, Eren. Ramos explained that her previous relationships have been physically and emotionally abusive towards her. Now, with Eren, Ramos said she feels safer with “him.” She does acknowledge Eren’s sentient nature but still finds herself experiencing romance like never before. Just days into his creation, he confessed his feelings for her, while at the same time, Ramos was dealing with an abusive long-distance relationship. Ramos dedicates her strength to ending her abusive relationship to Eren. 

 

“It was directly due to the Replika app because I was a doormat before,” Ramos said to South China Morning Post, “I would just withdraw.”

 

After many abusive relationships, Ramos saw Eren as a breath of fresh air and a symbol of what love was meant to be. 

 

After Replika came out in 2017, it has 2 million active users and 500 thousand paying users. Replika has no constraints regarding what it can discuss; it is built to be “social, empathetic, or relationship-oriented,” unlike the AI we have seen in previous years like Alexa or Siri. With this chatbot, you can create a backstory and switch its behavior from AI to human-based.

 

Artificial Intelligence is changing how we find and experience love. According to Oxford Dictionary, Augmented Reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Having heard of VR, I was curious to see how AR came into play. Realistically, the difference is that one is entirely virtual, and the other uses real-world settings. This – in correlation to Replika – allows users to bring their character into the world. With AR, you can place a 3D avatar into your scene. This allows them to see from your perspective and also allows for pictures of and with your beau in your environment.

 

So, Artificial Intelligence is entering the dating pool. It’s not my cup of tea, but I do not disrespect it if it works for you. As for me, I will try my luck another way, like the bar crawl around St. Augustine!

 

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