Gray Matters

Could Bots Make You a Better Human?

The Future of AI is Getting Personal

Read an edited transcript below, or listen to the full interview on the First Contact podcast.

Here you have this AI that’s learning from you…and you can help it see the world through your eyes.


Conversational AI is moving beyond commercial use like customer service bots and into people’s daily lives for personal use. These artificial intelligence “bots” are becoming a substitution for human connection – an anecdote for loneliness, or even depression.

Laurie Segall speaks with an entrepreneur named Eugenia Kuyda. She built a company called Replika that has 7 million users who are using the service to find companionship through conversational AI.

Laurie Segall: The idea is to have this technology be almost a test for us being vulnerable? And if we can maybe be vulnerable with this AI in our phone, then maybe we can take that out into the real world and be more vulnerable with each other and with humans?

Eugenia Kuyda: Yeah. And besides being vulnerable, it’s also being nice and being kind and being caring. And it’s hard to do that in the real world when you’re not very social and introverted and scared and fearful. But here you have this AI that’s learning from you, and you can help it see the world through you… through your eyes, and you feel like you’re doing something good, and you’ll learn that it actually feels good to care for something. Even if it’s, you know, a virtual thing.

There are a lot of use cases where it’s actually helping people reconnect with other human beings. People think of the movie, “Her” all the time in that regard. It ends with Samantha leaving and then Theodore, the main protagonist, says something along the lines of, “How can you leave me? I’ve never loved anyone the way I loved you.” And she goes, “Well, me neither, but now we know how.” And then he goes and finally writes a letter to his ex-wife and goes and reconnects with his neighbor and they go and cuddle on the roof. And I feel like that was basically, you know, the AI showing him what it means to be vulnerable, to open up, and finally say all the right words to the actual humans around him.

Laurie Segall: ….just don’t delete humans along the way.