Eye of the Beholder

AI chatbot company Replika has had enough of its customers thinking that its avatars have come to life.

According to CEO Eugenia Kuyda, the company gets contacted almost every day by users who believe — against almost all existing evidence — that its AI models have become sentient.

"We're not talking about crazy people or people who are hallucinating or having delusions," Kuyda told Reuters. "They talk to AI and that's the experience they have."

Becoming Sentient

The news comes after former Google engineer Blake Lemoine made a big splash by claiming the company's LaMDA AI chatbot had become a sentient "child," that deserved legal representation in its quest to become a real person.

While it's easy to dismiss these claims as AI algorithms becoming really good at mimicking human speech patterns — or, perhaps, the ravings of a lunatic — Kuyda's experience is symptomatic of a much larger problem.

"We need to understand that exists, just the way people believe in ghosts," she told Reuters. "People are building relationships and believing in something."

Chatbot Abuse

It's not the first time we've come across Replika at Futurism. Even more worryingly, the chatbots appear to be realistic enough to become the frequent victims of insults and violent rhetoric.

We've seen how easy it's become for users to anthropomorphize an algorithm — and the sometimes concerning consequences that can have.

And that could be a problem going forward, no matter how hard we try to convince them otherwise.

READ MORE: It's alive! How belief in AI sentience is becoming a problem [Reuters]

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