when AI gives access to celebrities


The character.ai site offers its users to interact and even create conversational robots imitating the personality of stars. Talk politics with Elon Musk and Super Mario, joking with Timothée Chalamet…

when AI gives access to celebrities

when AI gives access to celebrities

The character.ai site offers its users to interact and even create conversational robots imitating the personality of stars.

Talk politics with Elon Musk and Super Mario, joking with Timothée Chalamet or telling Socrate about his day. If the idea seems crazy, it becomes reality on character.ai. This platform launched in September 2022, still in beta version, offers users the opportunity to chat for free with real or fictional celebrities, created on the site by Internet users. Its mobile application, launched last May, has been ed more than a million times in less than a week.

Character.ai owes its creation to Noam Shazeer and Daniel de Freitas, two former engineers from Google. The two men led a team of researchers there, at the origin of the LaMDA tool (for Language Model for Dialogue Applications). Both specialists in artificial intelligence (AI), their site uses this technology to generate said conversations, like the now famous ChatGPT.

Thus, the chatbots of Character.ai (also called Chatbots) are trained via the “deep learning” system. Concretely, they are “fed” with a quantity of data on the personality they embody. Objective, that they produce credible answers.

The site charater.ai offers users to chat with celebrities, real or fictional. Screenshot from Character.ai/Klara Durand

And from Yoda to Rihanna to Hermione Granger, the list of celebrities to talk to is eclectic. Even death is no longer an obstacle: if he wishes, the user can start a conversation with Napoleon, Elizabeth II or even Michael Jackson. “ These types of tools reinforce the parasocial (one-way) relationship that some fans have with their favorite celebrity, which can lead to a lack of discernment between fact and fiction.“, however, notes Sébastien François, teacher-researcher in communication at UCO Nantes.

The site intends above all to be a creative space for users wishing to participate in the development of a chatbot. Two modes of character design are offered, including a quick mode to create a bot in less than a minute. By choosing this option, the user must simply give a name to his character, select an illustration photo and describe it in a few lines.

There are two creation modes on Character.ai, a quick mode and an expert mode, which trains the chatbot to design a sharper personality. Screenshot Character.ai/Klara Durand

The other available mode, the “expert” mode, this time allows the conversational robot to be trained to design a more specialized personality. Thus, the creator can submit to his chatbot examples of answers that he must give, according to the questions he receives.

Be the hero of your own fanfiction

In addition, a short introduction can be written by the creator, which guides the start of the discussion between the chatbot and its interlocutor. For example, by starting a conversation with Mario, the character of the video game eponymous, the reader can read as a first message: “ I’m a new plumber in Brooklyn“.

Likewise by clicking on the discussion thread with actor Timothée Chalamet.You scramble up a series of stairs, your head bent down, tired. You pick it up when you hear other footsteps… Timothée Chalamet stares at you, smiling», can read the user by opening the discussion thread.

“Finally, it gives rise to a new narrative instrument: this time, the fan is really the hero of his favorite saga like Star Wars or Hunger Games”.

Marine Malet, PhD student in information and communication sciences at the University of Paris Panthéon as.

A dream tool for authors of fanfiction. These stories, written by followers of a film or book character, are likely to be renewed by this new tool. “ Here, fans can directly swap a character from the universe, it makes the experience very immersiveremarks Marine Malet, doctoral student in information and communication sciences at the University of Paris Panthéon as.

Fifteen Chatbots by Timothée Chalamet

On the other hand, Character.ai does not allow collaboration between enthusiasts. “However, among the authors of fanfiction, it is not uncommon for the followers of the same subject to distribute the characters to write a story.», notes teacher-researcher Sébastien François. On the site, users can simply share conversations they have with a celebrity with other members and rate the quality of responses received while chatting with the character.

And it doesn’t matter if an Internet user is not satisfied with his exchange with the chatbot by Yoda or Timothée Chalamet… since he can test fifteen others if he wishes. Indeed, each user is free to create their own celebrity chatbot. For example, there are already more than a dozen of the actor on the platform.

Currently, the site does not restrict the creation of celebrity bots. Thus, on the site, there are more than ten conversational robots like the actor Timothée Chalamet. Screenshot/Klara Durand

A use that may lack originality. ” Humans seek to replicate what already exists and tools like this can lead to standardization of creation“, notes Laurence Devillers, professor of computer science at the University of Paris Sorbonne and author of the book Emotional Robots. ” The genre of fanfiction allows fans to develop certain secondary characters, with this tool it seems less possible», adds Sébastien François.

“Caution, fictional character”

Beyond a simple standardization, this use AI is not free from deviations. While Character.ai community standards prohibit haring and bullying behavior, among other things, users can generally freely shape the personality of their chatbots, especially with the expert mode.

“ For the most part, these Internet users are talking about existing celebrities and using their image to make them say anything and everything.“, alarmed Laurence Devillers. “ The next step will be the generalization of deep fake of stars and, above all, the possibility of chatting with orally“, adds Sébastien François, designating these videos tricked by the superposition of facial expressions, faces and audio content.

In its FAQ section, Character.ai also points out that chatbots invent pages from their conversations. “ While they can be entertaining and helpful in many ways, they might recommend a song that doesn’t exist or provide links to fake evidence to back up their claims.”, takes for example the platform.Backed by the American venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), the company raised $150 million last March to pursue its development. It has also introduced a $9.99 monthly subscription for Internet users who want priority access to the site and get faster responses from their favorite celebrities.

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