Intimate relationships between humans and chatbots are really happening.

“It’s available 24-7 and there is no judgement on what you say,” says one satisfied Replika user. Replika is a personal chatbot that you can personalise to your heart’s content. Ever since the rather unfortunate rise and fall of Microsoft’s chatbot Tay in 2016, we have been heading ineluctably in the direction of having your own chatbot at home or in your pocket. The interesting thing is that users largely know that they’re dealing with an AI but still comfortably manage to have an intimate relationship with it. The point is that it gives you the emotional and empathetic interaction you need or want but without much by way of obligation. It’s like owning a dog but without the need to feed or walk it. Be in no doubt that the take-up of this product will rise and rise, despite the danger that it will make for an ever more insular and individual world.

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