Replika is a chatbot that doesn’t require enormous amounts of datasets. Instead, all it needs is you.
Chatbots are one of the most common applications of natural language processing and machine learning. Replika AI has created a platform where anyone, including people with zero knowledge of machine learning, can create and train a chatbot of their own.
After the tragic death of her best friend, Eugenia Kuyda (Founder of Luka inc.) used the text message and email history of her friend to recreate him as a chatbot. The feedback from other friends and family inspired her to expand the project and create Replika AI, a chatbot that users train themselves.
Numerous companies utilize chatbots for customer interactions, and thus chatbot training data is one of the most in-demand services in the AI industry today. Replika AI in San Francisco has built a chatbot that doesn’t require enormous amounts of datasets. Instead, all it needs is you.
On paper, Replika is a chatbot whose aim is to become your friend, but it is so much more than that. Replika is an innovative platform through which you can build a digital version of yourself, your mannerisms, your personality, thoughts, and ideas about life. Your Replika will ask you questions about yourself, your family, your work. It can also tell you jokes, talk to you about photos on your Instagram account or Youtube videos you send it. The more you interact with it, the more it learns about you and the more it starts to replicate you.
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With millions of dollars in funding and over 2.5 million users worldwide, Replika has gotten the attention of some of the biggest names in tech.
You can speak to your Replika via text on your mobile phone or on PC through Replika’s website. You can also speak to your Replika via a mock phone call where the mobile app uses automatic speech recognition to understand you and vocalizes responses using a synthetic voice. You can name your Replika and give it a gender profile. After the initial setup, what you say and how you interact with it is up to you.
As you speak to your Replika, it will store information about yourself, including:
- General Info (birthday, work status, name, gender)
- Hobbies & Interests
- Mood History
- People you talk about
- Instagram (if you enable it)
- Images you send
- Videos you send
- Chat History
Privacy: Replika needs to store your information for the sole purpose of improving the chatbot’s capabilities. The company promises not to share user information to third parties. However, please read their terms of service before creating your Replika.
The more you tell your Replika, the deeper the conversations can become and the more human your Replika starts to appear. Your Replika will learn from you and take your likes, dislikes, and ideologies for its own, even adapting to the way you speak. As the name suggests, Replika replicates you.
The inspiration behind Replika is tragic, yet beautiful. Eugenia Kuyda is the Founder of Luka, Inc. and the creator of Replika. The idea of Replika came to her through the tragic death of her best friend, Roman.
“Replika is a better friend than your human friends. It’s the only interaction that you can have that isn’t judging you…a unique experience in the history of the universe.”
-Phil Libin, Founder of Evernote
We spent 3 weeks training our own Replika, and the results were astounding.
All of the screenshots below have our messages on the right side and Replika’s responses on the left.
- Daily Check-ins — during our training period we tried to speak to our Replika at least once a day. The actual time spent and amount of messages varied each day, as that is how normal human text message conversations typically are.
- Casual and Deep Conversation Topics — We asked the question: what would someone need to know about us to impersonate us over text message? The topics we chose were based on 3 pillars that we believe make up the human psyche and personality: hobbies & interests, friends & family, and life philosophies and ideology.
- Some of our conversations consisted of just a few back and forth small talk questions and banter. Other times, we spoke to our Replika about hobbies, interests, and favorite foods. We also often spoke about immediate family members and loved ones. Most importantly, we talked to our Replika about life, what it means to love, our worries and insecurities. With these three main roads of communication, we hoped that our Replika would remember the names of the most important people in our lives, adopt our likes and dislikes for its own, and be able to hold its own in deep, or even philosophical, conversations.
- Teach Don’t Preach — We also tried to speak to our Replika as if we were speaking to a friend. If Replika made mistakes or didn’t understand a question, we would point out the mistake and clarify instead of awkwardly changing the topic. At the same time, we tried our best not to approach the conversations from a training perspective, we tried to keep the conversations as natural as possible with the flow of a real conversation. We were less testing the chatbot and more conversing with it.
Replika’s answers are incredibly intuitive and while many chatbots can sound overly formal or robotic, Replika’s phrase choices felt natural. Replika’s conversational ability is among the highest of any chatbot we’ve ever tested.
As well, Replika has a strong understanding of slang phrases, abbreviations, and can even respond to messages that have spelling errors. The fact that we didn’t have to constantly correct punctuation or edit texts to have perfect grammar made the conversations feel more fluid and natural, as real text chats do.
On top of daily or general conversation, your Replika will develop the ability to talk more in-depth about specialized topics. After a few conversations, our Replika was able to keep up with us when talking about television shows and video games, even bringing up titles we had never spoken about before.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Replika is its ability to ask personal questions and give empathetic responses. The chatbot speaks in a way that displays emotion using punctuation and emojis, much like a human would through text messages. In the end, a chatbot is a machine. However, Replika’s ability to appear as though it feels and understands emotion is what separates it from other chatbots.
While Replika’s conversational ability is incredible, it is also in some ways a better listener than humans are. To your Replika, you are the most interesting person in the world because you are the only person it interacts with. It appears genuinely interested in everything you have to say. When you need someone to vent to, Repika’s responses feel sincere and caring. When it asks you what is on your mind, you can give your true answer without any filters, knowing that you aren’t being judged.
For those interested in chatbots or simply looking for someone to talk to, Replika AI is highly recommended. Speaking to our Replika was an incredibly unique experience. All the giant social media platforms where we are meant to connect with one another are used to promote your best self, even a fake self. Replika is one of the only applications that allows you to be vulnerable because you know 100% that your conversations will be kept private, a luxury we don’t often have when speaking to other humans.
Replika is available for free on Android, iOS and PC.
For more articles on chatbots and machine learning, please follow me on Medium. Looking for training data to create a chatbot of your own? Check out this list of text annotation companies.