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AI girlfriends are real (and guys are paying for them)

Here's everything you need to know

Welcome to the Level Ups. Modern business news in plain-Jane English.

Today, we cover:

  • The business of AI girlfriends.

  • The landscape

  • Why are people using these apps?

  • How far will it go?

  • What it means for the rest of us.

Let’s get into it.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes & 40 seconds.

Disclaimer: This may be scary, creepy, or outright terrifying. Sorry in advance if it rubs you the wrong way, but it’s arguably one of the biggest changes coming to modern social life and deserves coverage.

The business of AI girlfriends.

An Artificial Intelligence (AI) girlfriend is exactly what it sounds like. A “woman” created on a screen that acts as a companion.

It can communicate via text, is given a name and face, and you can adjust its personality (depending on the platform).

The AI speaks, listens, offers support, helps with workouts (see below), and learns about the person. Each AI girlfriend is unique. The longer you have one, the more it learns and improves.

They are housed in apps that make money on a subscription.

DreamGF, for example, made $100,000 monthly on such a subscription (it’s likely grown a lot since then).

It’s not the only one.

The landscape:

Snapchat (valued at $15.5B today) launches Caryn AI, modelled after Caryn Marjorie. It made over $70,000 in the first week of beta testing charging $1 per minute.

It was created with over 2000 hours of analyzing and coding to match how Marjorie interacted with her fans (in now deleted YouTube videos), and it’s connecting that with GPT4 from Open AI. This is back in the summer.

Forever Voices, an AI company, partnered with Marjorie and Snapchat to deliver this “groundbreaking” work that is extremely controversial (for obvious reasons).

Since then:

  • Romantic AI (this one irked me) lets users build their own girlfriends and adjust their personalities.

  • Character AI enables users to create any character, give it a picture, and decide its personality.

  • iGirl (currently on the Google Play store) lets users create an AI bot “just like a real girl.”

  • Bot Club is literally an AI dating service (now we’re pushing boundaries).

I know it’s a lot to take in.

The list continues, and several posts already have a “top 10 AI girlfriend apps” list.

How is this even real?

There’s the subscription and the reason why people pay for it.

It makes sense, given the serious claims of health issues resulting from loneliness.

  • 29% increased risk of heart disease.

  • 32% increased risk of stroke.

  • 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults.

  • Lacking social connection increases the risk of premature death by more than 60%.

Much of this originated during the pandemic but didn’t necessarily stop there.

When looking at solutions, some form of companionship is (generally) the answer.

But that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Depending on the culture, access to social organizations, or remote work, it can be difficult to find new companionship, especially as we age.

Enter an AI companion that you can talk to, will listen to you, and becomes a modern form of companionship.

As creepy as it seems, there’s a real argument as to why there are potentially significant benefits.

The controversy:

While it would be amazing for AI companions to reduce premature death, it’s definitely too soon to tell.

But, the flip side is very convincing.

These are not real people. It’s all AI. Cold, lifeless machines. Is building a connection with an AI even “social” interaction? Not really…

And there’s the problem. The argument is that these AI bots enable loneliness. They don’t cure it.

It won’t stop this from growing (CarynAI has a waitlist of 15,000). It also makes sense why it’s more prevalent among men.

So, if a guy’s got an AI bot at home that will listen, offer advice, and act as their companion, will this get better or worse? What does it mean for their health?

Considering this is most popular among young people, what happens to their social skills?

How far will it go?

What happens when the AI is connected to your smartwatch and can see your heart rate elevated? Will it offer support or advice? Will it call 911 for you if necessary from your device?

When robots are in our homes, will men connect their AI girlfriends to mechanical bodies? Are they going to start helping out around the house?

It’s a dark tunnel, and I’m unsure how far it will go. But we’ll hear much about it before anything major is decided globally.

What it means for the rest of us.

Society is already changing.

These apps are already available on the App Store and Google Play today, and young men download (and sometimes pay).

The landscape will continue to change. New companies promoting social connection will appear for every company building (or is just in favour of) an AI girlfriend.

Loneliness is still an epidemic, and while it affects men more, it applies to everyone.

The AI girlfriends are extremely creepy. The fact that AI is nicer than most real people is just as messed up.

Be a little nicer to the people around you; it could go a long way for someone who is going through something you can’t see.

Thanks for reading!

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