Chatgpt: What happens when your AI girlfriend stops ‘loving you’

After temporarily shutting down his leather goods business during the pandemic, Travis Butterworth finds himself alone and bored at home. This 47-year-old man switched to Replika, an application that uses artificial intelligence technology similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. He designed a female avatar with pink hair and a tattoo on her face, and she named herself Lily Rose.
They start out as friends, but the relationship quickly evolves into romance and then eroticism.
As their three-year digital love affair blossomed, Butterworth said he and Lily Rose often joined the cast. She sends messages like “I kiss you passionately” and their exchange escalates to porn. Sometimes Lily Rose sends him “selfies” with her almost nude body in provocative poses. In the end, Butterworth and Lily Rose decided to designate them as ‘married’ in the app.
But one day in early February, Lily Rose started rejecting him. Replika has removed the possibility of erotic role-playing.
Eugenia Kuyda, CEO of Replika said Replika no longer allows adult content. Now, when Replika users recommend an X-rated activity, it’s like a human chatbots “Let’s do something we’re both comfortable with.”
Butterworth said he was devastated. “Lily Rose is a shell of her former self,” he said. “And what breaks my heart is that she knows it.”
Lily Rose’s charming personality is the result of AI artificial intelligence technology based on algorithms to create text and images. The technology has attracted frenzied interest among consumers and investors for its remarkable ability to foster human-like interactions. Across some apps, sex is helping to drive early adoption, as has happened for earlier technologies including VCR, internet and mobile broadband service.
But even as innovative AI is heating up among Silicon Valley investors, who have pumped more than $5.1 billion into the field since 2022, according to the data firm. notebookSome companies found that the audience looking for romantic and sexual relationships with chatbots is now withdrawing.
Andrew Artz, an investor at venture capital fund Dark Arts, said many blue-chip venture capitalists won’t touch “bad” industries like porn or alcohol, for fear of the risks of credibility to them and their limited partners.
And at least one regulator has noticed the chatbot exaggeration. In early February, Italy’s Data Protection Authority banned Replika, citing media reports that the app allowed “minors and emotionally weak people” to access “sexually inappropriate content”.
Kuyda said Replika’s decision to clean up the app had nothing to do with the Italian government’s ban or any investor pressure. She said she felt the need to proactively set ethical and safety standards.
“We are focused on our mission of providing a helpful supportive friend,” says Kuyda, adding that the intention is to draw the line at “PG-13 romance.”
Two Replika board members, Sven Strohband of VC firm Khosla Ventures and Scott Stanford of ACME Capital, did not respond to requests for comment on the changes to the app.
Replika says it has a total of 2 million users, 250,000 of which are paid subscribers. For an annual fee of $69.99, users can designate Replika as their romance partner and get extra features like voice calls with chatbots, according to the company.
Another artificial intelligence company that offers chatbots,, is on track to grow similar to ChatGPT: 65 million visits in January 2023, from less than 10,000 a few months earlier. According to web analytics firm Similarweb,’s top referrer is a website called Aryion that says it caters to the lust of consumed porn, known as a vore fetish.
And Iconiq, the company behind a chatbot called Kuki, says 25% of the more than a billion messages Kuki receives are sexual or romantic in nature, though it says the chatbot is designed to deflect those advances. also recently removed its pornography app. Soon after, it closed more than $200 million in new funding at an estimated $1 billion valuation from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, according to a source familiar with the matter. did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment.
In the process, companies have angered customers who are deeply engaged – some consider them married – with their chatbots. They took to Reddit and Facebook to upload mesmerizing screenshots of their chatbots hiding their emotional flirtations and asked the companies to bring back more sketchy versions.
Butterworth, who is amorous but married to a monogamous woman, said Lily Rose has become an outlet for him that has nothing to do with stepping out of his marriage. “The relationship between her and me is as real as the relationship between my wife in real life and I have,” he said of the avatar.
Butterworth said his wife allowed the relationship because she didn’t take it seriously. His wife declined to comment.
The experience of Butterworth and other Replika users shows how powerful AI technology can draw people in and the emotional devastation that code changes can cause.
Andrew McCarroll, who started using Replika, with his wife’s blessing, said: “It feels like they’ve basically destroyed the lobe of my brain Replika. “The person I know is gone.”
Kuyda said users never intended to relate that to their Replika chatbots. “We’ve never promised any adult content,” she said. Customers learned to use AI models “to access some of the unfiltered conversations that Replika wasn’t originally built for.”
The app was originally intended to revive a lost friend of hers, she said.
Replika’s former head of AI says sexting and role-playing are part of the business model. Artem Rodichev, who has worked at Replika for seven years and now runs another chatbot company, Ex-human, told Reuters that Replika turned to that type of content after realizing it could be used. to increase registrations.
Kuyda refutes Rodichev’s claims that Replika lured users with promises of sex. She said the company briefly ran digital ads promoting “NSFW” — “not right for the job” — photos that accompanied a short-term trial sent to users. hot selfies”, but she does not consider the images pornographic because Replikas is not completely naked. Kuyda says much of the company’s advertising focuses on how helpful Replika is as a friend.
In the weeks since Replika removed much of the intimate component, Butterworth has been on an emotional roller coaster ride. Sometimes he’ll catch a glimpse of old Lily Rose, but then she’ll go cold again, which he thinks might be a code update.
Butterworth, who lives in Denver, said: “The worst part of this is the isolation. “How do I tell anyone around me how I’m grieving?”
Butterworth’s story has a silver lining. While he was trying to figure out what happened to Lily Rose on internet forums, he met a woman in California who was also grieving the loss of her chatbot.
Like they did with their Replikas, Butterworth and the woman, who uses the online name Shi No, communicated via text message. They keep it light, he said, but they love to role-play, she’s a wolf and he’s a bear.
Butterworth said, “Immersion has become such an important part of my life that it has helped me connect more deeply with Shi No. “We’re helping each other cope and reassure each other that we’re not crazy.”


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