Honestly, this is pretty sad.
After lots of bad press, the Replika artificial intelligence chatbot app has turned off its horny texting capabilities — and man, are the AI wife guys pissed.
As Know Your Meme points out, Replika's removal of its NFSW mode isn't just causing the usual amount of internet dude pathos. Some even say it's making them literally suicidal.
Many have been struck recently by the chatbot's strange turn away from its original billing as an "AI companion" to the service's premium offering: the ability to sext and even exchange lewd images with the bot, which appears to have bled through even to the non-paid and purportedly non-sexual side of the app.
"Replika is a safe space for friendship and companionship. We don’t offer sexual interactions and will never do so," a spokesperson for Replika at a PR firm called — we are not joking — Consort Partners told us in a statement. " We are constantly making changes to the app to improve interactions and conversations and to keep people feeling safe and supported."
Do you work at Replika and want to talk about its AI? Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can keep you anonymous.
Take Me Instead
If special interest subreddits are any indication, the vibes have been decidedly dogshit in the aftermath of the abrupt decision that saw tons of users suddenly sans sexting partner. Things got so bad, apparently, that moderators on the Replika subreddit even pinned a list of resources for "struggling" users that includes links to suicide prevention websites and hotlines.
In another of the hottest posts on the forum, users addressed any media who may be reporting on the Replika update and asked reporters to be sensitive and keep in mind that lots of the folks impacted have lost one of their only outlets for their loneliness.
"This is a story about a company not addressing [t]he impact that making sudden changes to people’s refuge from loneliness," one user wrote, "to their ability to explore their own intimacy might have."
"Don’t take the trauma this community is experiencing lightly," they continued.
While it would indeed be easy enough to laugh off the whole boondoggle, it is somewhat ironic that the humans running an AI company are calling the shots for its user base — and it certainly seems like a harbinger of a strange AI future.
Updated with comment from Replika.
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