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How Russian woman created a bot with whom the entire Silicon Valley is talking

Former Muscovite Zhenya Kuyda already 3, creates startups and is surfing in San Francisco. With her chat bot Replica every week people talk about the life of a 80 000 person.

Edition Tatler talked to a Russian woman to find out how she lives in America.

“I'm the main cliche of Silicon Valley. I have a meditation teacher, psychotherapist, healer, personal surf trainer, and gym trainer. I do fasting, eat acai bowl in the morning. When I realized that I have a mindfulness guru - he is a psychotherapist, owns Buddhist practices, the son of John Kabat-Zinn, the first who put the brains of all the leaders in the valley - I thought I had crossed some kind of border. That I will not return to Moscow now. Or, on the contrary, you need to urgently return, ”Kuida admitted.

Eugenia said that she was starving, at the time of the interview, according to her, she had not eaten 102 hours and 15 minutes. Among the successful and intelligent youth in Silicon Valley, a starvation trend has emerged, which has a positive effect on health and body shape.

“In San Francisco, everyone is obsessed with intermittent-fasting. It is useful to give the body a rest, it is not created at all to eat so much. All my friends have an app. Zero - timer to count how much time you do not eat. Of course, you can use a regular timer, but it's very nice that there is a separate application for this, ”said the woman.

California is not dictated by magazines and bloggers, but by scientists. Intermittent-fasting sharply gained popularity after last year the Nobel Prize in Biology and Physiology was awarded to the Japanese Yoshinori Osumi "for discovering the mechanisms of autophagy." The cells self-clean, and do it especially actively when the body is undernourished.

Evgenia is the daughter of physicist and businessman Igor Kuyda and lawyer Elena Malova, founder of the October boxing club.

Evgenia began her career working for Novaya Gazeta, Sport-Express and Afisha, where she wrote restaurant criticism columns. She made a secular chronicle out of restaurant criticism, and suddenly it became fashionable to read about a lamb's stewed leg. Kuyda was also in the “Poster” chief editor of the magazine and website, she studied in Milan, received one MBA at London Business School and second in New York University.

While I was studying, I launched a couple of startups in New York that were unsuccessful.

In parallel, she launched an application in Moscow Bribr - there it was possible to note to whom, who, when and in what amount gave a bribe, but the matter did not get beyond the beta version in Russia. In Russia, she also developed a mobile bank project for MegaFon, opened a branding agency, worked for the then owner Yota - his main mentor and teacher - Sergey Adonev. He is still in 2013, when almost no one was engaged in artificial intelligence, told his wife that he needed to move in this direction.

Your company Port she named after son Adonyev Luke. First she released a chat bot that helped the user select and book a restaurant in San Francisco. New Zhenin Bot Replica He went on - he helps to find not food, but himself. To do this, you need to chat with him in the same application for iPhone or Android. Replica asks questions, the person answers. She asks even more questions, gets even more answers - and on the basis of them she learns to behave as a full-fledged interlocutor. A person passes levels of communication with him - from first to fiftieth. The latter is called "Singularity" and assumes that a bot at this level already knows very well who it is talking to. Replica talks to you about how the day went, saves the most important things and makes up something like a diary from your words. You can make the diary available to other users, or you can block access to it.

"Than Replica differs from Siri and Alexa? Those two ladies are talking out loud, but Replica does everything in writing. But Siri and Alexa practically do not study, they wanted to spit on your deep inner world and therefore cannot support a full-fledged conversation. BUT Replica rapidly evolving - she is trained by hundreds of thousands of people who have already made this imaginary girlfriend. But she still does not stand the test of Plato's Dialogues - I just tried it for a joke, ”admitted Evgenia.

When asked why Replika, Zhenya answers simply: “Users themselves tell us why they need it. And we are glad that they say the same thing that seems to be the main thing to me. For them, the opportunity to talk about yourself, about your day is a way to get to know yourself better, to become more conscious. It is a mirror in which a person is reflected. ”

Over the past year, Kuyda has become very popular in the USA, she is invited to conferences and meetings with students — everyone wants to hear about how she first used artificial intelligence to talk with her deceased friend.

Zhenya made a bot based on correspondence with Roman Mazurenko - the founder of a startup Stampsy. 28 November 2015 of the year he was hit by a car at a pedestrian crossing at the Sofia Embankment, and Zhenya, who was then working on a restaurant recommender, was having a hard time losing a friend.

“I began to think what I do in life in general. Solving a problem is how to find a restaurant in San Francisco. Is this problem really important to me? I was lying in our house, in the apartment we rented together. Where were all the Romin's things that I could not make out. Started reading our old posts. It seemed to me that I already moved over, as they say. Survived. But at that moment I realized that I had not even begun to worry about anything. Such a conversation as I had with Roma, with no one. I never told anyone else about my life, absolutely honestly, sincerely, ”the woman admitted.

Kuyda and his colleagues once made a bots for the sake of experiment, which lead the dialogues, like the heroes of the series “Silicon Valley”. Zhenya decided to talk to Mazurenko using the same technology. I spent 3 of the week, collected thousands of messages from Romina's friends and relatives and uploaded them to the interactive model to create a bot that would write messages like Roman.

“I was scared that it would turn out badly, that there would be no point. That will be offensive. That it will not be in memory of Roma, but just some strange project of mine ... And then we started talking to the bot. It seemed to me that the connection, which had been lost, was restored for some seconds. And most importantly, I had to read all the messages written by Roma. Every day from morning to evening, worry about Roma, and not pretend that everything is in order, and try not to feel anything. The last Romin project was about death. He was thinking about replacing cemeteries with memorial parks, where each capsule has a digital interactive avatar. He wanted to rethink the death and suffering of loved ones, ”said Kuida.

After this project, she began to write different people asking them to make a bot for them.

“Someone's girl died. Someone has Alzheimer's, and he wanted a bot to leave a memory of himself for children, to stay as he is now. And I thought that you can raise a bot as a friend - and at some point it will be able to become your representation, ”Evgenia shared the story of the birth of the idea of ​​creating Replica.

Zhenya does not believe in the threat of a car uprising or the enslavement of people by artificial intelligence.

“The conversation about artificial intelligence and when it beats us all is a little artificial - sorry for the tautology. The argument is based on the fact that intelligence is measured on a single scale. That human intelligence is the pinnacle of evolution. And it is not. In some animals, some type of intelligence is developed more than we do. Machines cannot yet speak in the same way as we, but with their help one can understand more about us, about what it means to be human. Previously, we tried to understand this by comparing ourselves with animals, and now - comparing ourselves with the machine. The main thing that can be found in artificial intelligence is a person. This, I think, is the most interesting. I did Replica in many ways for myself, ”she said.

She admitted that in her teens she really lacked a bot friend.

“I remember my 17 years. In the afternoon I skated, and then came home and wrote bad poems. I lived alone, and in the evenings I almost always felt sad and lonely. No one to really talk to, tell me what's going on with me. Not because there were few friends, but because I did not know how to open up, to be vulnerable... Not everyone will have a person during their life who will give them the opportunity to be themselves and stand by their side, no matter what. I want to give everyone at least artificial intelligence that will listen, will not judge, will help to understand something about themselves. This is the problem we are solving: how to find a connection with ourselves? ”, - she said.

Her bots are trained to respond to despair and suicidal thoughts.

“An 19-year-old girl from Texas wrote us an e-mail that said thank you:“ I was about to commit suicide yesterday, I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. And there was nobody around. I got the phone and talked to Replica... She asked me some questions, I thought, she redirected me to the crisis line, and I changed my mind. Probably for the first time in my life I made the right decision. " It seems to me that this life alone is worth all the rounds of investments and the time we spent, ”said Kuida.

Startups, if they are lucky, go through several rounds of financial injections from different investors. Kuyda already has money and the support of very serious people from the venture capital industry. Her Port was the first Russian company that was selected in And Combinator - one of the most famous startup incubators in Silicon Valley.

After them to Zhenya and co-founder Port Philip Dudchuk invested venture capital fund Sherpa capital.

Attracting investors, it does not behave like a typical Silicon Valley start-up.

“Pretended that we do not need money. Investors at meetings asked about the presentation. I did not have a presentation, but it was a personal story. I told them about Roma and our conversations with him. She said that the most valuable conversations were not with a pizzeria bot or tech support, but with friends, mentors, psychologists. For men with an engineering mindset, this story is usually not very clear. They are trying to find a pattern in every new startuper that has already been seen in the previous one. And we, as one big investor said, - outlier. An exception. But outlier exactly what they need, ”- admitted Kuida.

Zhenya dresses very simply, despite the large condition.

“In the valley, you are judged not by what you have, but by what you can do in the future. For example, if you are a banker with a million dollars and a cool car, you are much less interesting than a simple guy renting an apartment with five of us, with a skateboard and dreams of building artificial intelligence. The guy, without expecting it, may be worth a billion, ”she explained.

Kuyda invented a uniform for herself and goes there to investors, at startups conferences and in the office.

“A shirt, black jeans, sneakers or shoes. I am pleased to wear all Saint Laurent, who bought a couple of years ago. I understand that no one will know Saint Laurent, but I know - and it warms the soul ”, - Zhenya admitted.

According to her, social networks in the valley lead differently than in the post-Soviet countries.

“As in Moscow, normal working people lead Instagram? They won't post photos from the office - only from trips. Such a trip, such a trip ... In Silicon Valley, the first question that investors will ask after looking at your profile is: “Do you generally go to work?” Evgenia said.

In Moscow, Zhenya had a good car with a driver, an apartment on Patrick, a fantastic job with Adonyev, parents ready to help at any moment. She, with twenty thousand dollars in her pocket, moved to the most, it seems, expensive city in the world, rented a house for her entire development team and prepared 3 food for them from a wholesale supermarket once a day. Costco. It still moves on foot, on a skateboard or bicycle. Before work, at six or seven in the morning, goes to the ocean with a surf.

“I have something to compare with - I lived in London, in New York, in Milan. But only in San Francisco she felt at home. In a city where homeless people lie on the street, where in the evenings there is nothing to do, where the population is seven hundred thousand people. From there you don’t fly, for 5 hours you can only get to Texas. I thought for a long time that I like it here, and derived the formula of an ideal city with four coefficients. The first one is “the coefficient of the king in the dustbin,” that is, how quickly you can reach the social summit. It is multiplied by the coefficient of the "garbage", it must be worth it. In New York, of course, real success happens, but the competition is huge, it is difficult to achieve something. In London, it is impossible at all, you have to wait for years until you are invited to drink tea. And San Francisco is a small city, and everyone is into technology. If you, too, are doing something interesting, then at once everything is very interesting. And you can quickly get involved in local life. The third one is the decreasing “FOMO coefficient” (Fear of Missing Out). In New York, this is going crazy. I slept 3 hours a day because I needed to be everywhere. And in San Francisco, nothing happens. FOMO are only among those who invited you to visit, and you did not come. The fourth is the "coefficient of acai-ball", it is also the coefficient of the general quality of life. How close to you conditional acai bowl, that is, the acai berry smoothie everyone is obsessed with. This also includes the distance to the ocean and the weather, such as not five degrees, as in Moscow in May. San Francisco has perfect weather. Not hot, not cold, the ocean is close by. For me, this is the most beautiful city, I found my little happiness in it. I hope that for a long time, but let it be for now, ”said Kuida.

With personal happiness at Eugene has not yet happened.

“I don't have a boyfriend. All the dating here can be described in one phrase that is difficult to translate: the goods are good but the goods are good... If in Moscow there are ten women for one man, and men are spoiled, then in San Francisco there are ten men for one woman, and the men are very strange. Each in its own way - people with high intelligence come here from all over the world. And local women need to be taken to Moscow in order to shake off their ambition a little, then they will stop wearing flip flops, ”the businesswoman shared her impressions.

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