AI Case Study

Luka has developed a chatbot which imitates people, alive or deceased, using a corpus of their text communications

The Roman bot is a chatbot available on Luka's app Replika. The app provides users with friendly chatbots to converse with, and in the case of Roman, the chatbot was trained on a corpus of text messages of an actual deceased person. It is an example of a new type of memorial product enabled by current advances in machine learning. The Roman Bot potentially provides a new therapeutic way to deal with loss and mourning, although it's not without its critics.

Industry

Technology

Internet Services Consumer

Project Overview

"Anyone who downloaded the Luka app could talk to it — in Russian or in English — by adding @Roman. The bot offered a menu of buttons that users could press to learn about Mazurenko’s career. Or they could write free-form messages and see how the bot responded."

The same technology is used by Luka to create their Replika bots:
"A hybrid of a diary and a personal assistant, [a Replika bot] asks questions about you and eventually learns to mimic your texting style. Kuyda imagines that this could evolve into a digital avatar that performs all sorts of labor on your behalf, from negotiating the cable bill to organizing outings with friends. And like the Roman bot it would survive you, creating a living testament to the person you were."

Reported Results

From The Verge: "The Roman bot was received positively by most... though there were exceptions... For many users, interacting with the bot had a therapeutic effect... The bot also raises ethical questions about the posthumous use of our digital legacies."

Technology

Generative neural network: Luka "upgraded the underlying neural network from a “selective” model to a “generative” one. The former simply attempted to match Mazurenko’s text messages to appropriate responses; the latter can take snippets of his texts and recombine them to make new sentences that (theoretically) remain in his voice."

Function

R And D

Product Development

Background

"It had been three months since Roman Mazurenko, [Luka founder] Kuyda’s closest friend, had died. Kuyda had spent that time gathering up his old text messages, setting aside the ones that felt too personal, and feeding the rest into a neural network built by developers at her artificial intelligence startup... For two years she had been building Luka, whose first product was a messenger app for interacting with bots."

Benefits

Data

30M+ lines of Russian text for the initial network, 8,000 chat line messages to train on.