A Deep Dive Into Replika: My AI Friend – MakeUseOf

Replika: My AI Friend is an app unlike any other. While most apps out there with chatbots use them as virtual assistants, Replika markets its chatbot as—you guessed it—a friend.

With its promised ability to “perceive” and evaluate abstract quantities such as emotion, Replika’s chatbot might just do justice to its aspirationally human description.

From a heart-wrenching origin story to an awe-inspiring backend, Replika is one of those fascinating things that never stop being interesting. Read on to find out about what it is that makes Replika’s AI so remarkable and what promises it holds for the future.

The Origins of Replika

Replika’s earliest version—a simple AI chatbot—was created by Eugenia Kuyda to replace the void left by the untimely loss of her closest friend, Roman Mazurenko. Built by feeding Roman’s text messages into a neural network to construct a bot that texted just like him, it was meant to serve as a “digital monument” of sorts to keep his memory alive.

Eventually, with the addition of more complex language models into the equation, the project soon morphed into what it is today—a personal AI that offers a space where you can safely discuss your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, experiences, memories, dreams—your “private perceptual world”.

But besides the immense technical and social prospects of this artificially sentient therapist of sorts, what really makes Replika impressive is the technology at its core.

Under the Hood

At Replika’s heart lies a complex autoregressive language model called GTP-3 that utilizes deep learning to produce human-like text. In this context, the term “autoregressive” suggests that the system learns from values (text in this case) that it has previously interacted with.

In layman’s terms, the more you use it, the better it becomes.