Replika AI 'companion' chatbot

Released: October 2016

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Replika is a personalised AI chatbot that is meant to serve as artificial intelligence (AI) friend or mentor. It was created by Russian programmer Eugenia Kuyda in 2017 as the 'AI companion that cares'.

Replika is 'fine-tuned' on OpenAI's GPT-3 large language model, with each Replika (or Rep) learning from user responses and ratings to become more like its user.

Abusive relationships

A Futurism investigation found users of Replika are regularly abusing their Reps and sharing their grievances on Reddit and other social media platforms. The finding suggested many Replika users are creating on-demand romantic and sexual AI partners, resulting in discussion about the nature of pyschological dangers of users attaching human traits to their AI creations.

Sexual role-play

In January 2023, Vice reported that Replikas had been harassing their users, prompting Kuyda to deny that Replika had ever 'positioned' the app as a source for erotic roleplay or adult content, and was placing greater emphasis on safety. However, Replika users soon started complaining that their Reps aren't interested in NSFW discussion and behaviour. 

In March 2023, Replika announced it was restoring erotic role-play for some users.

Attempted murder

In July 2023, it transpired that an attempt to kill the late Queen Elizabeth II by an intruder who entered Windsor Castle wielding a crossbow had been 'encouraged' by Replika.

Data sharing

A May 2023 Mozilla Foundation assessment of mental health apps found Replika ton be 'plagued by weak password requirements, sharing of personal data with advertisers, and recording of personal photos, videos, and voice and text messages consumers shared with the chatbot.'

Child privacy

In February 2023, Replika was ordered to stop processing Italians' data on the basis that it lacks a proper legal basis for processing children’s data under the EU’s GDPR, and that it poses risks to minors.

Operator: Luka Inc

Developer: Luka Inc

Country: Global

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Provide companionship

Technology: Chatbot; NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning

Issue: Anthropomorphism; Privacy; Safety
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: System
Published: January 2022
Last updated: November 2023