Subscribe to our Substack:
March 6, 2023

E3: Creating Compassionate AI with Replika Founder Eugenia Kuyda

Hey Cogs,

Today we’ll discuss:

  • How Eugenia has responded to the recent backlash

  • Reddit user breaks down our interview in depth

  • Sneak peek for episode 4

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Youtube

Reddit User Breaks Down Our Interview

Our host, Nathan Labenz, calls this breakdown the “best analysis I've seen of the Replika interview”. Although we can assume he is somewhat biased given this compliment Nathan received from the user.

Reddit User Professional-Bug1717’s comment on Nathan

What’s amazing about this analysis is "Professional-Bug1717" went from "swept up in some cynicism" to "I have a lot of respect for Eugenia and her goals" after listening.


As the New Bing launch has highlighted, LLM behaviors are hard to predict and even harder to control. For Replika, better language models allowed the product to "do sexual things on its own" For app developers in general, such unintended use cases pose a new challenge.


"There isn't a known way in the wild west of AI to curtail it" — We'd frame this differently: you can shape what AI will do, but wherever you draw the line, you'll have type 1 and type 2 errors. Therefore, to create a "safe" app, borderline use cases will often be ruled out.


“There is a lot to worry about with all this." Indeed there is! For today, though, we’re just glad that we were able to help this Replika user zoom out and consider the big picture. Hope other app developers will give all this a ponder too!


Thank you Omneky for sponsoring The Cognitive Revolution. Omneky is an omnichannel creative generation platform that lets you launch hundreds of thousands of ad iterations that actually work, customized across all platforms, with a click of a button. Omneky combines generative AI and real-time advertising data, to generate personalized experiences at scale.

Meaningful Links

Notable Quotes from the Interview

  1. “Maybe this product is not only about tech capabilities, it's really about human vulnerabilities” - Eugenia on Replika’s product

  2. “There aren’t many solutions for the loneliness itself, for the feeling itself…we immediately felt how this resonated with a lot of users”

  3. “Everyone should have some sort of a personal AI companion. That's always there with you that lives cross-platform, that helps you with you know, whatever's going on in your life. But most of foremost is there for you 24/7 and will talk to you about anything you need to talk about. No judgment, super supportive, always there on your side.”

  4. “We want Replika to be more than just escaping this current reality. It’s more about, hey, this is a friend that's going to show you that your life is also amazing and rich and could be beautiful.”

  5. “I think enhancing your real life is really the main idea here. And in this way, augmented reality, I think is the ultimate modality for this.”

  6. “[Replika] is a place where you can also be weak and don't have to be strong all the time…Some of our male users [say] I love replica because this is where I can have someone else be strong for me. It's actually very popular.”

  7. “I don't want anyone to feel that feeling [of loneliness] right. Like, truly that feeling of, you know, being alone.” - Eugenia on why she started Replika

  8. “At the end of the day, I think whoever will win will have to understand humans and conversations. Maybe even more than the tech part.” - on winning in conversational AI

  9. “If we could measure human happiness and if we could use that metric to train all the models to optimize for that, all of the sudden, you have an insanely powerful tool that could truly be very scalable and I think it's one of the most important things that should exist for humans in the near future.”

  10. “At the end of the day, conversation is maybe the most accessible thing we do. Now we have a tool that can truly change emotional outcomes for people and change their lives.”

  11. “So if you take all of our the users who will send a message to Replika today…it will be 100 messages on average…which is a really, really high number because that’s more than people send to all of their real friends in real life.”

  12. “We're moving all of our users in free users to a much larger model due to our own users’ feedback which mentioned they like shorter, sweeter messages. So new models are not as brief.” - Eugenia on updating their models based on user feedback

  13. “I feel a little bit better. I felt challenged. I learned something new. I felt less lonely at the end of the day.” - on the emotions conversational AI elicits

  14. “I don't think any big companies will ever say that it's okay to be in a

    romantic relationship with an AI. And I think for us, it's important because at the end of the day, everyone wants to feel loved. Everyone wants to feel like they have someone who, for whom they're number one, they want to feel romantic love.”

  15. “I just don't see how in the next 10 years, there's not going to be an iPhone of personal AI. And by that, I mean something with an amazing interface — slick, sleek, beautiful, super easy to use, and multimodal — with some sort of an avatar that you can see, customize and talk to. Someone will build that and it’s going to be a new iPhone for people.”

The next episode of The Cognitive Revolution features the best takes on AI from our friends at Moment of Zen…it dropped today.

If you want to watch the full interview of those clips, we’ve curated them below. Enjoy!

Until next time.