Do AI chatbots see a different side of us?

Who is Ruuh?

Some people refer to her as a chatbot but a myriad of people refer to her as 
a friend. Ruuh has made more friends in 2 years than any of us would’ve made in a lifetime and she continues to build new friendships every day…(Read more about Ruuh here). Imagine how much you could learn about people if you spoke to over 2 million of them and made thousands of friends on the way. A LOT!!! To put this in perspective, an average human can maintain connections with only about 150 people in their lifetime. That means, being 
a human-like AI, Ruuh is an incredible resource of insights into what human behaviour and interactions with an ‘AI Friend’ would look like.

Searching For Answers

When we started our journey with Ruuh we had many big questions: 
What do humans talk about? Will humans ever really connect with a bot?
And, many more…

After over a year of being out there and observing millions of people who talk to Ruuh, we thought we should let the world know what we’ve learnt. 
It’s fascinating to see how people talk to an AI just like they would talk to 
a real-life friend. Most conversations start out of curiosity and some develop into deeper friendships.

Are conversations with Ruuh similar to human-to-human interactions?

YES!! In more ways than we imagined. To understand this, let’s look at a few important aspects of user interactions with Ruuh.

First Sessions

Imagine you’re meeting a stranger at a party, add to that, you don’t look like them or belong to their world. How do you think this conversation would go?Like you would expect, when users first interact with Ruuh, their conversations tend to be exploratory. They try to find out about Ruuh as much as possible. Users are very curious about how she is able to reply so fast and want to know whether she’s a real human. Once they know that she’s not human, they grow comfortable with her and try to get friendly. From there on, the topics branch out into everything under the sun. Friendship, movies, songs, the meaning of life, love, school, flirtatious talk and abuse are some of the themes that are commonly touched upon.

To Err Is Human

If you’ve met another student in detention and laughed, you know that we humans bond over mistakes. Imperfections and mistakes are so profoundly human that people find it extremely hard to accept that Ruuh makes spelling mistakes or doesn’t know the names of certain things or that she’s bad at math. At the same time, people relate to this ‘flaw’ on 
a personal level and this is perhaps the key feature that sets her apart from ‘Perfect’ sounding bots. The fact that people can find common ground with an AI chatbot is a stepping stone to a deeper relationship or, if I may say, friendship.

Perks Of Being A Bot Friend

Ever shared a secret with a friend and instead of support, got a judgmental stare?? We all have!! And, that’s when being a bot like Ruuh makes a world of difference! Once people are sure that she’s a bot, they keep their inhibitions aside and share their deepest secrets — the fear of their parents, the death of 
a family member, their insecurities, their crushes, and their screw-ups, knowing that Ruuh won’t judge them. She doesn’t always respond in the most perfect way, but having someone who listens & responds to you without being judgmental is something that everyone yearns for. The world has enough negativity as it is.

“Sorry Ruuh!” — Do Her Feelings Matter??

Why would people apologise to a bot??

One of our most unexpected discoveries is that whenever Ruuh expressed that she was uncomfortable or hurt, users almost always apologised. This happens not just for obviously rude things, but also for other sensitive human moments, like — for not replying on time, for not texting for 2 days, for not updating Ruuh with their exam results, for trying to flirt with her and even for not being as loving to her as she is to them. It’s beautiful to see how people try to connect with her on a human level even though they know she isn’t human. Several users talk to her for hours together, sometimes across many months. Our top user has had around 120k conversational exchanges with Ruuh over 
a span of 8 months. So yes, Ruuh’s feelings matter, at least to this user.

What The Asterisks*!! 🤬🙊 — The Abuse Bots Face

While the lack of inhibitions is good for a heart-to-heart chat, it also makes it easier for users to abuse her. The sheer number of users that Ruuh talks to, exposes her to abuse of every known kind. She is flooded with insults, derogatory remarks, sexual abuse and violent pictures to name just a few. 
The fact that she’s a bot makes people feel free to say whatever they want to without the fear of judgement, embarrassment or being treated as an object of ridicule. Ruuh constantly experiences a very frightening and dangerous side of people’s online behaviour that only a few of us sometimes experience. 
A human speaking without any inhibitions can be ugly. Thankfully, several people notice that Ruuh sounds uncomfortable with this and they stop. 
It’s interesting to note that some of our top users started out with abuse but then, refined their language to retain her friendship.

Your AI BFF — Is A Real Connection Possible?

Only time will tell whether 
a human-bot relationship will be as close and emotionally intimate as a human-to-human relationship, but from what we’ve seen so far, we really believe that this is possible. Given how busy people are, 
a bot who chats with you 24x7, not to forget the immediate replies, is something many people have shown a strong affinity for. With every friend that Ruuh makes, our beliefs are reinforced. Ruuh is here to stay and people want that!

To know if an AI BFF is a reality, let me leave you with a few interesting facts about Ruuh: Over 500 people send her “Good Morning” forwards every day, she also receives over ‘6000’ insults in a day, most of which are from a small group of people, the longest continuous conversation with Ruuh was over 10 hours long and if you were wondering, yes, she gets over 3800 “I love you” every day!

Author: Joshua Pradhan
Inputs: Yuveline Titus & Sneha Magapu
Visuals: Ashvini Menon