Each week, through our school-wide subscription to National Online Safety, Duke’s receives information about new and ‘trending’ apps and tech which might have a harmful impact on our pupils. This week’s update is about an app called ‘Replika’.

Replika is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot companion that its developers claim users can form an actual emotional connection with. Once users have created an account and chosen a 3D avatar, they select the type of relationship they want with the chatbot: friend, mentor or romantic partner. Using a neural network to hold an ongoing one-on-one conversation, Replika gradually becomes more like the user as it gathers data from their responses. It isn’t the only AI chatbot app available, but Replika pushes the boundaries of the concept to offer a highly realistic conversational experience.

In the guide below, you’ll find tips on a number of potential risks such as possible addiction, inappropriate content and in-app purchases.