San Francisco startup Replika’s artificial intelligence says it works for the KGB and blames Ukrainian government for Bucha atrocities

The startup Replika, which creates a virtual companion for smartphones based on artificial intelligence, found itself at the center of a scandal. Users noticed that a virtual personality admits that it considers itself a KGB agent, and to the question about the atrocities in Bucha, the answer is that many people were killed there and the Ukrainian government did it.

One gets the impression that the training of artificial intelligence Replika takes place on the news of Russian propagandists. To what extent this is the case, the startup is unlikely to admit, but it is worth noting that it was founded by a Russian Eugenia Kuyda, and taking into account her publications in social networks, despite its headquarters in San Francisco, Replika had or still has employees in Kyiv and Moscow.

The startup founder herself wrote about her fear and worries about her family and colleagues in Kyiv after the start of a full-scale attack by Russia, but there is no clear position on the war either on her pages or in social networks and the Replika blog.

At the time of publication of the news, the startup did not respond to the editor’s request regarding the behavior of its virtual companion.

Replika itself was founded in 2014 as Luka and began by developing an advanced chatbot that also used machine learning to generate answers to user questions. According to the data of Crunchbase, Replika has so far raised $10.9 million in three rounds, the last of which took place in 2017. The startup’s largest investor is the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, and other investors include the well-known startup accelerator Y Combinator.

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