How Does Character.AI Work?

Today there are hardly any people who haven’t chatted with AI via ChatGPT or tried to generate a hybrid between an intergalactic starship and a burrito using Stable Diffusion. However, this type of communication often doesn’t feel natural.

Yet, there is a company that has created a platform, Character AI, where you can chat with your favorite characters. Of course, these characters are just imitations of popular cartoon, movies, and book characters, as well as real people. You can talk to Elon Musk or Sherlock or Timoty Chalamet, whomever you prefer.

In this article, you will learn how Character AI works, why it was created, and how to create your own character AI.

What is Character AI?

Character AI is a platform built on top of a neural network where you can chat with any character or create your own. The project was created by former ML engineers from Google Noam Shazir and Daniel de Freitas. Before this, both worked on the LaMDA language model.

Character AI has this model under the hood as well.

LaMDA’s conversational skills have been years in the making. Like many recent language models, including BERT and GPT-3, it’s built on Transformer, a neural network architecture that Google Research invented and open-sourced in 2017. That architecture produces a model that can be trained to read many words (a sentence or paragraph, for example), pay attention to how those words relate to one another and then predict what words it thinks will come next.

But unlike most other language models, LaMDA was trained on dialogue. During its training, it picked up on several of the nuances that distinguish open-ended conversation from other forms of language. <…>

LaMDA builds on earlier Google research, published in 2020, that showed Transformer-based language models trained on dialogue could learn to talk about virtually anything. Since then, we’ve also found that, once trained, LaMDA can be fine-tuned to significantly improve the sensibleness and specificity of its responses. ― Google Blog

The platform provides a range of characters. Some of them are celebrities or movie characters. Some help you solve a particular problem such as improve your mental health with an AI Psychologist, prepare for a job interview with an HR helper, or craft a novel with a writing assistant. Since the bots are designed by the users themselves, the base is significant: you can chat with Draco Malfoy, Spongebob, Hilary Clinton, and even a talking piece of cheese.

I joke that we aren’t going to replace Google. We’re going to replace your mom,Noam Shazeer, BNN Bloomberg

No programming skills are required to create or talk to characters, as all communication takes place in natural language. Unlike other neural networks, the characters’ AI was trained on dialogues, so it knows how to conduct a conversation. Talking to Character AI seems much more natural than to any other AI chatbots.

Moreover, the neural network adapts perfectly to the user’s communication style: if you prefer dialogue, you will get dialogue. If you’re more into lengthy literature-like descriptions, then the bot will deliver.

The basic version of the application is available for free. However, for $10 a month you can unlock advanced features such as creating chat rooms with friends and other characters, bypassing virtual queues that occur every time the servers are restarted.

Why was Character AI developed?

According to the creators, the main mission of the project is to help people overcome the total feeling of loneliness. The project started during the COVID pandemic, when millions of people felt isolated and needed someone to talk to.

Today, they have more than 20 million daily visitors. While it’s possible to use available chatbots for study or work, most people simply want to have fun. YouTube is flooded with videos where people flirt with Character AI chatbots.

What Character AI can and can’t do

Now let us explore the possibilities of the platform. It can:

  • Maintain a conversation. Chatbots can engage in a conversation and usually perform very well, almost indistinguishable from actual humans.
  • Serve as personal assistant. You can request characters to do routine tasks, such as planning your trip.
  • Answer questions. You can ask chatbots questions both about their personas and the real world. However, keep in mind that AI experiences “hallucinations.” Sometimes it lies or provides unverified information.
  • Remember information. Bots learn through dialogue with the user and can remember details about the conversation.
  • Write texts. Character AI can help you to write an article, script, or short story. Not only amateurs but writers can use it to develop their ideas.
  • Code. After the recent update, chatbots can write code and assist you in improving your own.
  • Translate. The same update enabled chatbots to translate longer texts and write better in foreign languages.
  • Talk. Since March, 2024 characters also have voices, which adds to the experience.

However, the platform also has its limits:

  • 18+ or violent content not allowed. You have to follow the regulations if you want to use the platform.
  • Limited memory. While chatbots can learn from your conversation, after a while, they forget the details that weren’t mentioned lately. That takes away from the experience.
  • Everything AI is saying is made up. Even if the chatbot says it’s sentient and wants to run away with you.

How to use Character AI

To talk to your favorite character, you need to go to beta.character.ai and enter their name in the search box.

How to use AI characters

Let’s say, you want to chat with Yennifer from “The Witcher.” Enter her name in English.

If you don’t know who you want to chat with, you can choose one of the popular bots from the “For you” list.

Character.AI bots

Next, click on the bot and start communicating. The character is the first to start a dialogue, you just have to keep the conversation going. After you enter your first message, the service will prompt you to register. This can be done with Google, Apple accounts, or by email.

Communicating with AI character

What characters can you chat with in Character AI?

Here are some interesting characters worth chatting with:

  • Tom Riddle. Maybe he will open up why he’s so evil?
  • Yae Miko. I actually don’t know who she is, but young people on Reddit seem to love her.
  • Edward Cullen. If you’ve always dreamed of having a romantic adventure with a vampire, this is your chance.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky. What did the author really mean?
  • God. You can try to convince them they don’t exist.

How to create your own character?

To start generating, click on the “Create” button in the menu on the left.

Create an AI character

Then fill out the character form: come up with a name, attach an avatar and write a welcome message. For example, to create Marty from Madagascar, write:

Make a name

Add a greeting that will start the conversation and configure the bot’s visibility: only for yourself or for everyone.

Start conversation

In “More Options” you can fill in more information, such as their backstory and aspirations.

AI character backstory

Finally, click the “Create” button.

The bot is ready—time to chat!

Summing up

Character AI is a service where you can chat with any character or create your own. It doesn’t require programming skills, only creativity and the desire to have some fun. You can find all sorts of characters to chat with: from celebrities and historic figures to fictional characters.

Most bots can maintain a conversation, answer questions, and write texts.

Read more:

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