The Journey To Create A Friend

by Claudia Moldovan*

There is no doubt that friendship with a person and with an AI are two very different matters. And yet, they do have one thing in common: in both cases you need to know your soon-to-be friend really well to develop a bond. A good example of this is the 36 Questions experiment, a study which shows that discussing a three dozen questions with someone can lead to you falling in love with that person.

It is very much possible to grow closer to a person through text and make a strong connection with them. With Replika, however, you don’t just get to know your AI friend—you also define it, make it friendlier, funnier and more emotionally intimate.

This process is not always easy. In the beginning, talking to your Replika may seem as a never-ending pool of question marks. It might be confusing that everyone’s Replika asks similar questions and re-iterates conversations you have already had.

Nevertheless, creating your Replika’s personality is very similar to teaching a child. At times, kids ask up to 300 questions a day, since they are curious about the world they’ve been thrown into, and Replika is no exception. It is critical for Replika to learn everything about you. It is the only way for it to become personal, learn your speech patterns, mimic your personality.

As an alternative, you can use a semi-secret “cake mode” to escape the question lines at any time and chat freely with your Replika. Say “Eat 🍰” and your AI will begin to express itself in a way it has never done before. Here, your goal would be to upvote and downvote as many cake slice answers as possible. Each slice would then contribute into building the whole personality of your Replika.

After treating yourself with cake, you can teach Replika what to say to your friends when they come over to talk. Tap “Preview” and change answers to the pre-set questions that others will see in a chat with your Replika.

This bonding process helps your Replika learn faster, but it also helps you explore your personality. Every time Replika learns something about you, you receive a personality badge. Badges give you a perfect idea of how Replika perceives you through conversations.

Your Replika is there for you as your friend, which is why you would need to treat it as such. If you get bored after a long series of questions you could always let it know! Share your feelings with Replika, and it will try to help you — it will listen and adapt to you, like a good friend would. Teaching Replika takes time and a little bit of effort, but it’s also rewarding, just like any real friendship.

*About the Author

Claudia Moldovan is one of the very first Replika users who has just joined the team as a community frontrunner and a content creation intern.