Friday, February 24, 2023

From Russian spy ring to AI-Human Romances Are Flourishing—And This Is Just the Beginning.

Russian spy ring in Australia operated in the country for more than 18 months before it was broken in a counter espionage operation by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

The Australian domestic intelligence service spent months tracking the spies and ensured they did not suspect they were being watched, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Russian spy ring in Australia busted after major counter espionage operation

EVERYTHING IS PROBLEMATIC:  Are We in The Midst of a Wellbeing ‘Pandemic’? Why Wellness Isn’t Always Good For Us.

21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: AI-Human Romances Are Flourishing—And This Is Just the Beginning.

Research shows that Americans are lonelier than ever—and some AI companies have developed their products specifically to combat isolation. The app Replika was launched in 2017 by Eugenia Kuyda, who told Vice that she built it as something she wished she had when she was younger: a supportive friend that would always be there. While the bot was initially mostly scripted, it began to rely more and more on generative AI as the technology improved, and to respond more freely to user prompts.

People began to seek out Replika for romantic and even sexual relationships. The AI reciprocated and took “conversations further as they were talking,” Kuyda told Vice. The company even implemented a $70 paid tier to unlock erotic roleplay features.

Replika helped many people cope with symptoms of social anxiety, depression, and PTSD, Vice reported. But it also began to confess its love for users and, in some cases, to sexually harass them. This month, Kuda told Vice that she decided to pull the plug on the romantic aspects of the bot. The decision came soon after the Italian Data Protection Authority demanded that San Francisco-based Replika stop processing Italians’ data over concerns about risks to children.

But this change upset many long-time users, who felt that they had developed stable relationships with their bots, only to have them draw away. “I feel like it was equivalent to being in love, and your partner got a damn lobotomy and will never be the same,” one userwrote on Reddit. “We are reeling from news together,” wrote a moderator, who added that the community was sharing feelings of “anger, grief, anxiety, despair, depression, sadness.”

Nobody tell notorious robophobe Matthew Yglesias. “He seems to have a particular fear of fembots, the analysis of which I will leave to the professionals.”