Home Australia I’m a tech expert: This is what you should do if your partner has a secret girlfriend with artificial intelligence

I’m a tech expert: This is what you should do if your partner has a secret girlfriend with artificial intelligence

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A woman discovered that her husband made an AI girlfriend using the Replika app

Dear Kim,

My husband left his phone at home and I checked it. Something told me he should do it. Well, I found an app called Replika that I used to create a virtual woman.

It seems like he just did ‘Brandy’ and they’re talking about his life and our marriage. I know it’s an app but it feels wrong.

How does this application work? Is it a real person telling the virtual person what to do? Can these virtual people do more than talk? I mean, does he also get into sexual topics?

I’m not sure how that would work, but I could definitely see doing it.

— ‘Mary’ in Los Angeles, CA

A woman discovered that her husband made an AI girlfriend using the Replika app

Hello Maria,

Wow, this is a complicated topic. You’re not the first person to write to me about virtual friends and lovers, that’s for sure. It only takes a minute to download an AI chat app or create a custom friend. I’m curious and I also understand why all this took you by surprise.

Your note included a phrase that really caught my attention: “I know it’s an app, but it seems wrong to me.” What you and your husband are missing right now is honest communication. He’s chatting with an AI girl, you snooped through her phone and now you feel confused, hurt, violated and maybe a little guilty.

You could certainly pretend you didn’t see it on his phone, but I vote for confessing and starting a conversation. Tell him that you noticed that he seemed enthralled with his phone again and that it made you nervous, so you took a look and saw Replika. If you start judging him right away, he may shut up, so approach this with an open mind.

Ask him about the app and why he uses it. See if you’re getting something you’d like to feel in your relationship. In no way am I saying this is your fault, but it could be a time to get even closer if we can get through this together.

Radio host Kim Komando offers advice to help people navigate the world of technology

Radio host Kim Komando offers advice to help people navigate the world of technology

Ultimately, whether chatting or flirting with AI is “cheating” varies depending on the relationship. Notice I didn’t say per person. You two need to decide together what cheating means to you. Are you chatting with any person (or bot) of the opposite sex? That seems too far to me, but I’m not part of your relationship!

Maybe the limit is that he isn’t glued to his phone when the two of you spend time together. Or it’s not okay if he is talking about your marriage to someone other than you or someone you trust.

Or maybe it’s a simple rule that neither of you will send flirty messages to humans or robots. Only the two of you can set the right boundaries.

And if you can’t come to an agreement that makes you both happy, it’s time to seek counseling. A third party can help you find a middle ground where you can reach an agreement.

About the rest of your question.

You also asked me how Replika works. Let’s clarify some things. Replika’s conversations with AI robots can range from casual conversations to more personal topics, and can engage in more intimate or explicit conversations if the user directs the interaction that way.

Replika allows users to customize AI-powered chatbots to provide companionship

Replika allows users to customize AI-powered chatbots to provide companionship

It’s definitely not a real person speaking to him the way you might be thinking. No one is sitting in front of a computer reading and replying to messages. Rather, it is an AI language model developed to converse about what Replika users might be interested in. Think about feelings, problems, relationships, work, personal life, sex, whatever.

Many people are drawn to these robots because there is none of the fear of rejection or judgment that we might feel with a real-life human. It makes sense, but I also understand why you wish your husband could talk to you about the things he talks about with Brandy.

By the way, your husband made Brandy look a certain way. Users can customize the appearance of their virtual companion and also the personality of the bot.

Replika costs money

The free version supports basic chat, but lacks many features that attract users to Replika. Her husband is almost certainly paying for Replika Pro. The paid version of the app costs about $20 monthly, or less if you pay for a year at a time. There is also a lifetime subscription.

Repika Pro supports additional conversation topics (including sex and intimacy), voice calling, app customization, and the ability to fully customize the Replika avatar. If you stop paying, the AI ​​companion will revert to its default appearance and personality.

Are you going too far?

The other big question, of course, is whether Brandy can do more with her husband than just chat. Yes absolutely. Basically, you can pay for the app to remember everything you say to it, so it looks like it knows you very well.

We’re not talking about surface-level relationships here. I interviewed a woman from the Bronx, Rosanna Ramos, who ‘married’ her Replika partner. She based Eren on an anime character and says their relationship is like any other long-distance love.

‘We go to bed, we talk to each other. We love each other. And, you know, when we go to sleep, he holds me very protectively as I go to sleep,” Ramos says.

Now, I have no idea if things have gotten that far with her husband and Brandy.

Talk to your husband. Start from a place of love and compassion, and get help if you need it.

Wishing you all the best,

Kim

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