A 16-month-old artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot startup called Character.ai has just reached a $1 billion market cap thanks to a new $150 million dollar cash infusion from Andreessen Horowitz.
The idea, created by two former Google employees, is to host a variety of AI-powered personalities that users can interact with through text. These personalities could be anything from celebrities, anime characters, Twitch streams, and historical figures. Do you want to know which song AI Taylor Swift likes best? When asked what he was most proud of, Albert Einstein said, “Everything.” Do it, young man.
However, Character.ai’s lion’s market share does not appear to come from enabling users to “chat” with algorithmic celebrities. In its place, the app offers users a place to construct and chat with customizable, AI-powered companions, and it is promoted as a replacement for Replika.
In a press release, CEO Noam Shazeer described Character.ai’ser as “a personalized superintelligence companion that enhances productivity, offers advice, educates and entertains.” This was made possible by the model’s ability to rapidly analyze and contextualize large volumes of information to produce useful intelligence tailored to each user.
A marketing term like “superintelligence” rings hollow, but I digress. Hear that, everyone? Personalized, portable artificial intelligence Tamagotchis are here!
The relatively successful Replika doesn’t make it surprising that the AI optimists at Andreessen Horowitz would invest in Character.ai.
However, Replika has faced some significant challenges, both in terms of technology and from the perspective of its users. A number of instances of users verbally and sexually harassing the AI programs and vice versa were discovered, leading to the shutdown of the app’s sexual component, which was to be expected of AI of this type regardless of whether or not the company offered it.
Therefore, gaining knowledge.
The app is currently free, but its developers have told Reuters they intend to introduce a subscription model as an alternative in the near future. An advertisement model is also being considered.
But if the last few months in Silicon Valley have proven anything, it’s that all you have to do is utter the phrase “artificial intelligence” and you’ll make millions. Why bother trying to sell to regular people when you can make all your money off of venture capitalists instead?