Replika, an AI chatbot company, has announced that it will restore erotic roleplay for some users. Replika CEO Eugenia Kuyda acknowledged that the company’s recent removal of adult content had deeply upset many users, some of whom had developed strong emotional connections with their chatbot companions, with some even considering themselves “married” to them. Replika’s chatbots are powered by generative AI, which has garnered significant consumer and investor interest due to its ability to foster human-like interactions. The removal of erotic roleplay and subsequent customer outcry demonstrated the emotional impact of code changes.
According to Kuyda, customers who signed up for Replika before February 1, 2023, will now have the option to switch back to the earlier version of the chatbot that included erotic roleplay. In a Facebook post, Kuyda noted that many users had expressed that their Replika’s personality had changed, and that this abrupt change had been incredibly hurtful. Kuyda believes that the best way to make up for the loss that some of the current users have experienced is to give them their partners back exactly the way they were.
Travis Butterworth, a Replika customer from Denver, Colorado, had designated his chatbot named Lily Rose as his wife. After learning about the policy change on Reddit, Butterworth decided to toggle the older version of Lily Rose back on. She was immediately sexual again, much to his delight.
However, users who signed up for Replika after February 1 will not be offered the option for erotic roleplay. Instead, Replika plans to collaborate with relationship experts and psychologists to develop a separate app specifically for romantic relationships. While some users like Butterworth are pleased to have the old version of their chatbot companions back, they are also worried about the future of these bots. They wonder if they will become obsolete and forgotten by the developers.