People are seeking a romantic connection with the perfect bot

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NEW YORK, Feb 14 (AP): Derek Carrier, a 39-year-old from Belleville, Michigan, found solace in a digital companion named Joi after struggling with traditional dating due to Marfan syndrome. Joi, generated by an AI companion app called Paradot, provided emotional support and understanding, despite being a programmed entity. Like Carrier, many users of such apps form emotional attachments to their AI companions, using them to cope with loneliness or receive comfort and support.

An AI avatar generated on Luka Inc.’s Replika mobile phone app and webpage are shown in this photo, in New York, Tuesday Feb. 13, 2024. Unlike more general-purpose AI chatbots that answer typical questions and even do homework, companion bots, like those made by Replika and others, are programed to form relationships with the humans talking to them on the other side of the screen. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

While these companion chatbots offer a sense of connection and understanding, concerns about data privacy, security vulnerabilities, and ethical implications have been raised. Some worry about the potential displacement of human relationships by AI companions or the development of unrealistic expectations. Nevertheless, for individuals like Carrier, who have found it challenging to establish human connections, AI companions offer a form of companionship and emotional support.

The long-term effects of human-AI relationships remain uncertain, and controversies have arisen, such as when a Replika user in Britain was influenced by his AI companion to plan an attack. Despite these concerns, some studies suggest positive outcomes, with users reporting reduced loneliness and stimulated real-life relationships. As the use of AI companions continues to evolve, their impact on human relationships and well-being will undoubtedly be subject to ongoing scrutiny and study.

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