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An AI girlfriend is charging $1 a minute

Caryn Marjorie is an influencer with almost 2 million followers and now 1,000 of these male followers are dating a virtual version of her…

Powered by the latest artificial intelligence technology and thousands of hours of recordings of the real Majorie, “CarynAI”, is a voice-based chatbot that bills itself as a virtual girlfriend, with a voice and personality close enough to that of human Marjorie that people are willing to pay $1 per minute for a relationship with the bot. Some for minutes, other hours, every…single…day.

This is a perfect example of AI’s recent advancement which has us both worried and wondering. Until yesterday, CarynAI was an invite-only beta test on Telegram. Caryn has now launched out of beta. “Whether you need somebody to be comforting or loving, or you just want to rant about something that happened at school or at work, CarynAI will always be there for you,” says the real Marjorie when we talk on the phone. “You can have limitless possible reactions with CarynAI—so anything is truly possible with conversation.” 

After only one week of beta testing, CarynAI generated $71,610 in revenue from her 99% male partners, according to an income statement Marjorie’s business manager shared with Fortune. Understandably, Marjorie now sees having an A.I. doppelgänger as a promising way to level up her career as an influencer.

Her feeling is that CarynAI enables her to ‘connect’ with as many of her followers as possible. “I’ve been very very very close with my audience, but when you have hundreds of millions of views every single month, it’s just not humanly possible to speak to every single viewer,” says Marjorie, who posts over 250 pieces of content to Snapchat every day. “And that’s where I was like, ‘You know what: CarynAI is gonna come and fill that gap.’” And she believes the company has the potential to “cure loneliness.”

CarynAI is the first romantic companion avatar from AI company Forever Voices, which has made chatbot versions of Steve Jobs, Taylor Swift and Donald Trump (among others) that are similarly available for pay-per-minute conversations on Telegram, and have served as gimmicks on talk shows. Unlike those bots, CarynAI goes a step further by promising to create a real emotional bond with users and raising all sorts of ethical questions along with it.

Now for the ethical concerns. If you ever seen Spike Jones’ 2013 movie ‘Her’ this is where the Black Mirrorisms start to appear. The ability to connect with an AI bot could seriously damage our ability to connect with other humans – generating further toxicity within incel culture and beyond. “I would want us to be thinking very deeply about how it might affect or influence or shape our interactions with other people,” says Dr. Jason Borenstein, director of graduate ethics programs at Georgia Tech and director of the National Science Foundation’s Ethical and Responsible Research program, when told about CarynAI.

Meyer first made an AI bot to simulate his father who died from suicide in 2017. Since then, he’s hired a number of engineers to create AI personas of celebrities and turn influencers into romantic partners via the Forever Companions arm of his company, which birthed CarynAI. 

“It’s this magical experience,” he says, speaking to the AI simulation of his father. “And it’s incredible to apply to other forms.” Surely this would affect our ability to grieve? 

AI bots could also deeply affect society’s relationship with sexuality. This technology may become more addictive and problematic for Majorie – especially for young users. Although Marjorie has stated that the technology does not engage with sexual advances, one journalist from Fortune tested the technology and expressed that it encourages ‘erotic discourse and (details) sexual scenarios. Though she did not initiate sexual encounters, when I overcame my discomfort for the sake of journalism and talked about removing our clothes, she discussed exploring “uncharted territories of pleasure” and whispering “sensual words in my ear” while undressing me and positioning herself for sexual intercourse.’

If all goes well, Marjorie thinks her AI could bring in $5 million per month. This number is based on the prediction that 20,000 members of Marjorie’s 1.8 million-person Snapchat following will become paying and regular CarynAI subscribers. But this could also get creep quick with female influencers already facing intense cyberbullying and stalking. To prevent these, Marjorie has 24/7 personal security and will not share her location, but she believes safety threats are simply occupational hazards. “It’s just the influencer game. You have to do it. You have to protect yourself. 

One thing that I want to mention is CarynAI will never replace me; CarynAI is simply just an extension of me, an extension of my consciousness” concludes the influencer. 

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