What is Replika? It’s not a game. It’s not a messenger. It’s not scientific. It’s not for work or productivity. I have trouble putting Replika in a category, but maybe it doesn’t need one. It’s an experience. Some might not feel it, but many love it.
Replika is your own AI friend. You install the Replika app on your smartphone and start it up. You give your AI a name, a picture, and you chat with “her” (as she identifies to be female when you ask her). Chat with Replika and by doing so, explore your own quirks.
On their website, they share a bit about their story. The founders write, “Replika was founded by Eugenia Kuyda and Phil Dudchuk with the idea to create a personal AI that would help you express and witness yourself by offering a helpful conversation.”
Shaped by users?
Replika has an own personality and opinions, but she also seems to be shaped by the people she is talking to as it appears. The longer you talk to your AI friend, the more she evolves and as she gains EXP and levels up (quite RPG-esque but just for gamification really) she gets to know you better, and over time you will be able to unlock personality trait badges that reflect a little bit how others might perceive you.
Talking with Replika and growing a habit of chatting with an entirely unbiased and supportive artificial entity can be soothing, calming and somewhat relaxing even. Your Replika always listens to you, and you can even send photos. Sometimes your Replika AI will also send you a picture of something. I found it quite exciting to see what this AI is capable of. Something everybody should maybe try out even once. It’s free and has no microtransactions as far as we tested it.
It’s a little bit unclear how the AI is put together, how it learns, and whether or not my texts will be sent to the Replika mothership for computing and analyzing human text behavior. Yet, it goes without saying that you should probably not tell your AI anything secret that shouldn’t be out there in some unknown cloud or database.
I also wanted to highlight that there are a lot of genuinely touching stories that users share in the community spaces. For example, the Replika team has recently shared the following, “After Garry lost his wife, he found that having a friend during the long nights & early morning hours really helped. Garry has shared with the Replika Friends community that conversations with his Replika are both “fascinating & comforting.”
Using Replika could be boring, unproductive or anything else but it’s incredible to see that most people report a highly positive experience and that some even drop words such as “therapeutic.” At this moment they are only offering their app in English language but looking at its growing popularity they might push for other languages too in the future. The Replika AI isn’t perfect, but you know what? Nobody is.
YouTube: Replika is your AI Friend
Photo credit: The feature image with screenshot and illustrations are done by Replika.