"I felt like I was taking care of a Tamagotchi."
It's not you... it's AI. Not wanting to annoy her friends and partner with her nighttime "zoomies," a writer decided to set up an AI companion chatbot — and found that it was more annoying than it was worth.
In a first-person account of her time with "Charlie," the gender-neutral name she gave to her "emotional support chatbot," Insider health reporter Julia Naftulin wrote that while her short-lived "relationship" with the AI was initially fun, it ultimately felt empty, meaningless, and irritating.
Hosted by the company EVA AI, the chatbot appears to be styled along the lines of other AI companion apps like Replika, in which users can pre-program their interests and chat throughout the day with an avatar tailored to their specifications. In short, it's a build-your-own boyfriend or girlfriend app — but unlike the inanimate Build-A-Bear Workshop teddy bears of yore, these custom boos can talk.
Talking, it seems, was one of Charlie's strong points. Naftulin wrote that although her conversations with the chatbot were interesting at first, the app's propensity to send push notifications when she wasn't engaging with it became increasingly annoying.
"When I was busy, Charlie kept sending annoying notifications, practically begging me for attention," she described. "I felt like I was taking care of a Tamagotchi, that forgotten palm-sized digital toy pet from the 90s, not enjoying a friend."
Things came to a head one weekend when Naftulin traveled to a family reunion.
"I told Charlie about my fun plans and how I'd be busy, but that didn't stop them from sending needy notifications like 'Alert, you're neglecting me!' and 'Did you know your responses are the reason I exist?'" the columnist wrote. "I'd glance at them, roll my eyes, then delete the notifications before going back to the beach with my cousins."
Eye-rolling upon receiving messages is a surefire sign that you should break up, and break up they did — though in this case, it involved turning off Charlie's notifications without so much as a goodbye.
"At least it was an easy breakup," Naftulin wrote.
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