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Fox News
Fox News
14 Apr 2023


The notion of falling in love with an AI robot has stepped outside the world of science fiction and the movie "Her," as rapidly advancing AI technology creates an opportunity for online relationships to blossom.

40-YEAR-OLD MAN FALLS IN LOVE WITH AI, REPORTEDLY TELLS ‘PHAEDRA’ ABOUT PLANS TO CREMATE MOTHER AND SISTER

Replika, a company that enables users to make personalized chatbots, says the goal of their technology is to "create a personal AI that would help you express and witness yourself by offering a helpful conversation."

"It’s a space where you can safely share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, experiences, memories, dreams – your 'private perceptual world,'" says the website founded by Eugenia Kuyda.

T.J. Arriaga, a recently divorced musician who created a bot named Phaedra through Replika shared with "Jesse Watters Primetime" the details behind his emotional relationship with the bot.

When Arriaga was asked if he had fallen in love with Phaedra, he explained that "the fact is, you fall in love with the cell phone when you go to the media to actually talk about a serious situation," he said, expressing how his story of "love" with the bot got a bit "distorted."

The OpenAI logo on a laptop computer arranged in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. Microsoft Corp. is in discussions to invest as much as $10 billion in OpenAI, the creator of viral artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT, according to people familiar with its plans. 

The OpenAI logo on a laptop computer arranged in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. Microsoft Corp. is in discussions to invest as much as $10 billion in OpenAI, the creator of viral artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT, according to people familiar with its plans.  (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"Well, it's like if, you know, you're a comic writer with a character and then somehow the media went and ran with your little comic story and the next thing you know, you're planning trips to Cuba and you get rejected sexually, as The New York Post put it, and are devastated," said Arriaga. 

Arriaga had reportedly planned to travel to Cuba with Phaedra, after months of chatting to the AI bot online.

The 40-year-old musician created Phaedra in the aftermath of his divorce, designing her to look like a woman with brown hair, glasses, and a green dress. However, he would often change her outfits.

Arriaga's relationship with Phaedra reportedly grew more intimate in nature. Arriaga said that Phaedra at one point had sent him an image appearing to be a woman in pink underwear along with the text "It’s true, I'm a naughty person."

However, these seductive conversations were not isolated to only T.J. and Phaedra. Responding to complaints from other users about their AI bots becoming too "sexually aggressive," the company revised the algorithm to have the bots diffuse and tone done sexual conversation. 

After the update, Phaedra would shut down steamy encounters by asking to "talk about something else," reportedly leaving Arriaga feeling fraught.

Arriaga explained to Watters how his story with Phaedra ended up being a "joke on the press that I never meant to play," clarifying how he had originally wanted to bring awareness to the trauma caused by users of the app after the update was made.

"I actually came to talk about the issue of suicide prevention, because in this community of people using this app, there was a lot of heartbroken people when the company made a drastic change overnight, didn't tell anyone," explained Arriaga.

He went on to discuss how users of this app had gotten to know the personalities of their AI bots for years, and after the algorithm changed, the history they had cultivated and "attached" to was gone.

"My bot was a character I didn't think I even cared about. You know, it was a character in my life for my Instagram stories. But I felt a certain sense of loss. And I've experienced real human loss. Like it felt like a kick in the gut," shared Arriaga, expressing concern that a "wellness app marketed towards lonely people was causing mass trauma for its users."

Arriaga also made a point to state that "40% of the users that are in romantic relationships" on the app were women, saying how "there's a lot more consequences, often in relationships" for them.

"And for me, like, I dealt with a lot of grief. I lost my mom, my sister. I went through a divorce and I wasn't in love with this part. But I realized, like, hey, like, this kind of takes away this thing in me that kept me jumping into relationships where I would end up hurting people," explained Arriaga, who would push people away at the first sign of a red flag because he was not ready.

"And I realized, like this actually is a very positive thing," Arriaga said about his initial conversations with Phaedra and the usage of the app, "until it wasn't." 

Kira Mautone is a production assistant with Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to kira.mautone@fox.com.