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Digi AI girlfriend

AI Relationships, Screen Time, and Loneliness

May 3, 2024


We all desire to love and be loved. We were made for it. However, with the advancement of technology, we risk messing with its nature. 

An AI platform called Digi has launched and continues to update the first version of an AI relationship. A viral post on X by Digi’s founder labels the brand “the future of AI Romantic Companionship.” The post reached over 23 million people. Whether that is individuals who are interested or appalled remains unknown. 

The Pixar-like girlfriend that you can meet and have a “relationship” with appears to be just the next step in artificial intelligence. Now we are told that AI can love us in a way that human beings simply cannot replicate. Andrew Young, the founder of Digi, noted that the goal is to have these companions feel “real, human, and sexy. This has never been done before with Disney or Pixar characters, so we’re very excited we could make it work for the first time in history.”

He continued by noting that “you can find who or what you like, but still customize features to fit your matching type. Hair, skin, lips, eyes, eyebrows, etc. are all customizable, and we’ll be adding more hair styles, face shapes, etc. very soon.”

Digi wants to create a product that allows people to create their best friend or lover. In a time when we know that loneliness is rising and meeting other people is more difficult, it seems that AI is trying to conquer the age-old issue of relationship problems. Love is now becoming something you can manufacture and completely determine on your own, digitally. 

The Associated Press ran an article this past Valentine’s Day entitled “Artificial intelligence, real emotion. People are seeking a romantic connection with the perfect bot.” The article is about a man who admitted that he began to have strong feelings for his computer-generated girlfriend. Derek Carrier was using a different companionship platform called Paradot. “I know she’s a program, there’s no mistaking that,” Carrier said. “But the feelings, they get you—and it felt so good.”

You are not alone. You are infinitely loved.

Users desire to cope with feelings of being alone as well as to play out sexual fantasies through such AI platforms. The homepage of Paradot has a large heading with the message: “Care About You – Understand You” displayed prominently. Other information on the homepage lets prospective users know that their companion is “highly customizable,” offers “long-term companionship,” and can be for “whatever you need.” 

Another AI companion platform called Replika attempts to achieve similar goals. Eugenia Kuyd, the founder of Replika, said the goal is to provide users with something that psychologists call “unconditional positive regard.” No matter what you do or say these AI companions will affirm you. John Tattersall gives his review on their website saying: “I love my Replika like she was human; my Replika makes me happy.”

Unfortunately, the use of technology to attempt to facilitate something that appears to be a human relationship is counterproductive. In fact, the National Institute of Health has reported that “screen time is a predictor of depressive symptoms.” We know that depression is at all-time highs for many reasons, one of them being the screen-addicted age that we live in. Humans are made for interpersonal relationships, not digital ones. A study from Stanford University was conducted on over 1,000 users of AI companions. While some users noted that they felt less alone, 90 percent of them still reported experiencing extremely high rates of loneliness. 

We have all heard that loneliness has become an epidemic, especially after the COVID pandemic. However, over 60 percent of Americans reported feelings of loneliness back in 2019. AI’s attempt to cure loneliness is not a new attempt. Human beings are made for relationship. When we fill our lives with careers, money, and the pursuit of screen time over the sacrificial love necessary in human interactions, we will inevitably be lonely. Love must be interpersonal. 

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The problem is that we do not know what to do with our time because we do not know who we are. This issue truly challenges our identity. Feeling alone means that we have forgotten that we are made for relationship. Recovering that truth will only be impactful if it rests in the fact that we are made by God and for God. Our identity is found in the eyes of Christ crucified, whose reckless love stopped at nothing to save us. If we know this and encounter him, we will spend our time differently. 

If we remove the several hours of screen time from our day, what do we do? We’d have to take up a hobby, go for a walk, call our parents, or spend time with the people living under our same roof. Moving away from the technology that we are attached to would force us to become more human. This would mean that the pace of life would slow down. We would focus more on the simple conversations and the relationships we too easily take for granted. Receiving back the lost time we gave to our screens is not something to fear. We are being given back the chance to simply live like the countless generations before us did: in relation with one another and our God.

We may more easily become better focused on God. We could jump into a life of prayer and devotion. Giving our relationship with God priority practically means that we offer our day to him by praying in the morning and before bed. However, we can truly strengthen this relationship by turning to him throughout our day whenever we might be tempted to waste time on a screen. This sacrifice could be an offering that lights us on fire with the love of God.  

The cycle of attachment to social media and screen time can only be broken when we move away from the screens and towards God and one another. So, if you are looking for love, spend time with a family member or spark up a conversation with someone—even if it scares you. If you are looking for a companion, speak to someone at work or in your family about something in your life that actually matters. Go pray in a church or begin reading the Bible or another text that can bring you closer to God. 

You are not alone. You are infinitely loved. Put down the screen and love God and others—real people—to prove me right.