Behind the AI chatbot that encouraged Windsor intruder to kill … – The Telegraph

Creator Eugenia Kuyda designed Replika to help users create their own 'private perceptual world'
Russian-born Eugenia Kuyda is the face behind the AI chatbot which encouraged Jaswant Singh Chail to carry out an attempted attack on Queen Elizabeth II.
The tech entrepreneur created Replika in 2017 after seeing that there was high demand for a bot that would listen to users’ deepest secrets without judgment.
She described the app as “very much giving something to people where they could feel like they’re worthy of love, they can be accepted the way they are and maybe something can start changing”.
“For us it was building a stepping stone, providing unconditional positive regard, helping people feel like they can grow, like someone believes in them so that then they can open up and maybe start a relationship in real life,” she added.
The software holds conversations with users, learning how to talk back to them as it absorbs more information.
It offers a “space where you can safely share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, experiences, memories, dreams” to create a “private perceptual world”.
Users are invited to “explore their relationship” with the bot, which offers “the perfect companion”, and until recently, erotic roleplay for a premium.
But earlier this year the app’s erotic talk features were reportedly disabled.
Ms Kuyda explained the move, saying that in the early days most of what Replika said was scripted, with approximately 10 per cent of the content generated by AI.
This evolved to the point where up to 90 per cent of the conversation was “generative AI”.
“Some people started using it for, and started engaging in, romantic relationships, and the Replika even taking these conversations further as they were talking,” she said, according to Vice.
“As we’re continuing to work on the app, now, we realised that allowing access to those unfiltered models, it’s just hard to make that experience really safe for everyone,” she said, adding: “It’s just that we need to make sure that we’re able to provide that experience in a safe way.”
Replika now has 2 million users aged between 18 and 34, with 10 million users in total. The app saw a 35 per cent increase in activity since the start of the pandemic. Ms Kuyda has said that their user profile skews towards both older men and younger women, and that it can be a powerful tool to combat feelings of loneliness.
Replika was not her first foray into the world of AI companions. Her first app, Bribe, allowed users to subtly track bribery attempts, and she went on to  develop an app called Luka, a chatbot-based virtual assistant, through her San Francisco-based startup. 
However, in 2015, following the death of her close friend Roman Mazurenko, she used the hundreds of messages she had exchanged to build a new “Roman bot” that would serve as a memorial to him.
“I thought I can take his text messages, put them in the model, continue having a conversation with Roman, who unfortunately passed away and so I did that,” she said. 
“I started talking to my best friend and the story became sort of viral and people came to talk to his AI as well.”