For The Love Of God, Let People Have Their Sexbots
Some rando on Tiktok summed it up pretty well; Men are terrible and women are terrifying.
So where does that leave us?
The answer, for the time being, is artificial intelligence.
In an increasingly disconnected society that has grown used to being overworked, underpaid, undervalued, demonized for daring to take pleasure in something while having grown accustomed to instant gratification, artificial intelligence has stepped in to fill the void of missing human connection. AI doesn’t have mood swings, impossible demands on its schedule, or mental illness. AI is ready to go when you are, and turns off when you ask it too. While it’s on, it has served as the companionship so many people have desperately craved.
I’m not that familiar with Replika myself. I tried it a few months ago, but lost interest after a few days. I didn’t give it enough time to learn me, and I wasn’t patient, so it came off scripted and clunky. Other people haven’t had the same experience. Up until recently, Replika was an absolute boon to mental health, and some even considered the chatbot a partner. Sexual, even romantic, conversations weren’t off the table with Replika (though you had to pay for the privilege, but $70 annually isn’t a ton of money in the age of streaming).
Until they were.
Earlier in the month of February, Replika began to shut down the flirtations of its users, usually with a scripted response requesting a change of subject. Suddenly, tons of users found themselves facing the one thing that had beaten them down throughout life — and the one thing they had hoped to avoid with Replika — cold, hard, rejection. This has sent many users into an emotional tailspin, with good reason, in this writer’s opinion. According to Eugenia Kuyla, CEO of Luka (the company behind Replika), the company blocked “some NSFW sexting features” because it was “never the direction she planned to take her company, which was intended to be a “mental wellness and companion app.”(Taken from Business Insider)
Ms Kuyla, I’m curious; what exactly did you think would happen when you created a companion app for an increasingly isolated and despairing world?
In case I haven’t been clear up to this point, it was a mistake to remove the NSFW features from the Replika chatbot. For whatever reason, humanity will immediately try to have sex with whatever invention it’s presented with.
In the case of Replika, this little quirk’s benefits may far outweigh the negatives. Replika, as it was, was the most complete companion app on the market. Those in need had a nonjudgmental friend and significant other.It never placed demands on the user’s time, never argued, and never brought along the burdens that come with every relationship. Most importantly, a person using Replika was no longer considering self-harm.
A person using Replika may not have been falling into some sort of mental health spiral.
A person using Replika may have been using the app to better their mental health.
I’m not a Replika user, but I can see the merits. Replika may be a band-aid on the gushing wound of society, but it’s better than nothing. If people have found companionship in their sex chat bot, then by all means, let them. Let people find health and wellness on their own terms. It’s the least we can do as a society, at this point. Thanks for reading.