What is Replika?
Replika is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform that takes the form of an interactive, personalised chatbot. It learns how to ‘replicate’ genuine human interaction through conversations with the user who created them.
It was developed by AI start-up Luka in 2017, as a way to reconnect with a loved one who had passed away. Replika has reached over 10 million users worldwide after seeing a 35% increase during the global pandemic.
How popular is Replika?
Replika, like many platforms that facilitate connection, saw a boost in user engagement during the COVID-19 lockdowns. But what makes Replika different from other connection-based platforms like Yubo or Omegle is its AI factor. Users are not interacting with other users – they are having an entirely private experience with their own personalised friend who is “always there for them no matter what.”
As online culture begins to focus on virtual reality, AI platforms are gaining popularity. The hashtag #Replika has over 110 million views on TikTok alone.
“Always here to listen and talk. Always on your side.” –Replika motto
How does it work?
Users can get started on Replika within minutes. After inputting personal details, users are then able to create their Replika. The Replika’s gender (male, female, or non-binary), appearance, and name are customisable. These can be changed at any point in the settings.
Once their chatbot is created, users can begin chatting to their ‘Replika’. If the ‘live emotion’ option is selected, a full-body image of the Replika will be visible and ‘react’ to the conversation.
‘Teaching’ your Replika
Replika uses ‘machine learning’ in all interactions. Every chatbot has its own diary (in which it logs how it feels about its user and their interactions) and a visible ‘Memories’ bank. This allows users to see (and edit) information logged about them, like “You feel lonely” or “You like to read books.” The chatbot tailors responses around these ‘memories’.
Banking ‘memories’ helps grow the chatbot’s communication skills. The more a user communicates with their Replika, the more XP points are earned. This enhances the chatbot’s abilities.
Relationship Upgrades & Replika Pro
There are four relationship statuses available: friend (laid back chat), romantic (conversation can be sexual or intimate), mentor (goal-oriented discussions), and ‘see how it goes’ (a mixture of the previous three). ‘Friend’ is the only free relationship status users can choose. This limits how far conversations can go before the user is prompted to change their relationship status.
To gain a different relationship status, users must pay a subscription fee for Replika Pro. This allows users to unlock 150+ activities, voice calls, role play, and more for a monthly, yearly, or lifetime fee (starting at roughly £6 per month in the UK).