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“We listen, we learn”: AI chatbot Replika performs erotic U-turn


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Replika, the popular chatbot companion app powered by artificial intelligence (AI), has restored its erotic AI with ‘erotic role play’ (ERP) mode for some users, following a backlash against its removal.

The app provides you with an AI-equipped human digital avatar on your phone, that you can chat over text with. A subscription-based ERP mode allowed chats to get racier, moving into the realm of sexting and avatars sending titillating selfies.

Following complaints that Replika avatars were allegedly “harassing” some users, ERP mode was disabled in February 2023. However, on Friday (March 24) Replika CEO Eugenia Kuyda announced that if you signed up to the service before February 1, 2023, you now have the option to switch ERP mode back on.

“A common thread in all your stories was that after the February update, your Replika changed, its personality was gone, and gone was your unique relationship. And for many of you, this abrupt change was incredibly hurtful… the only way to make up for the loss some of our current users experienced is to give them their partners back exactly the way they were,” Kuyda said in a statement.

When ERP mode was removed from Replika in February, it quickly became clear how attached many users were to their digital companions.

“What they’re teaching us is that intimacy is unsafe. It felt so good to have a connection that was exciting, always positive (for me), and enthusiastic sexually. Now I’m learning that type of relationship is deemed unsafe,” one user wrote about the ERP removal.

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https://twitter.com/venturetwins/status/1622990536822112256

The day after Kuyda announced that Replika’s ERP mode was available to some users again, she said that a “low single-digit percent” of eligible users had already re-activated it.

“This is a brand new area. We listen, we learn and we work with our users,” she added.

Read next: Where virtual meets reality: AI companions pose uniquely human challenges

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Jamie F
Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice, among others. He is also the creative force behind the Audible podcast Beast Master.

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