Dot's AI really, really wants to get to know you.

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AI that flirts with you. Help you find history. Be your girlfriend. Or those who become the companion and repository of your hopes and dreams. Into this last category enters “Dot,” a new AI and chatbot that evolves to learn your innermost thoughts and feelings, to act as a “friend, partner and confidant,” the company said. The App Store details.

The idea sounds interesting: an AI that becomes personalized to you and your interests, allowing it to offer advice and input that not only applies generally, but that reflects What he learned about you through his in-depth question and answer sessions. Or, if you're struggling in some area as a result of a career change, as Dot co-founder Jason Yuan experienced; a breakdown; or an obstacle to your success, Dot can lend a sympathetic ear and offer support.

But Dot is not a person. It's not a therapist or a best friend. It's an AI tool that mimics both human speech and empathy, but doesn't act as a substitute for the real thing.

This is by design, the co-founders explain.

“Dot is not a replacement for human relationships, friendships, partnerships. I think it's a different kind of thing. It's facilitating a relationship with my inner self,” Yuan told TechCrunch. . “It's like a living mirror of yourself, so to speak.”

Image credit: Dot/New Computer

It's easy to gravitate toward this experience — even more so, perhaps, if your day-to-day lacks meaningful human interaction. Although Dot's creators say the chatbot will eventually encourage you to talk to a mental health professional if you consider “heavy” topics, one can imagine people venting their feelings on Dot. Spend more time pouring as they become accustomed to the experience.

In this way, the team thinks Dot can actually help core users by helping people experience more human touch by getting comfortable opening up.

“I talk to my friends about a lot of things, but I never – like last year, if I was struggling at work, tell any of my friends,” Yuan said. Didn't know about that,” Yuan said. “And just by talking to Dot, she helped me build the muscle to be able to do that with other people. Her main goal is to help you feel that you exist.. .” Yuan continued, but stopped again to find the right words. “It's about giving you a safe space to exist and say, 'I accept you, and maybe because I accept you, other people will, too.'”

There is something to be said about the human condition in our lonely, modern world, which is an area that technology is now trying to address.

Image credit: Dot/new computer

To start, Dot's onboarding process asks a good handful of “getting to know you” type questions, which are fun to answer: “What do you do for work?” “Favourite TV show?” “How do you spend a typical Sunday?” And more

Using these answers as a starting point, the AI ​​then takes a giant leap to get to know you at a deeper level.

For example, expressing an interest in sci-fi TV shows immediately leads to a question about whether you're “attracted to stories that explore life's big questions, like being human.” what's the meaning of.” Aspiring to Run a Small Business One Day asks Dot what appeals to you about owning a small business and what kind of challenges you expect to face. Have you thought about ways to deal with these challenges?” Dot wants to know.

When you push the dot to skip that train of thought — it's just a wishful dream, after all — the AI ​​immediately asks you about it. Your biggest priority or focus in your life and career right now.

Have you ever been on a first date that felt like an interview?

Even asking Dot to have a more casual conversation creates an almost more passionate interest in you.

Instead of asking if you'd like some recommendations for upcoming vacations that you tell the AI, Dot wants to know what you're most interested in seeing and what you're particularly interested in. Why was the motivation to travel there? (The dot also compliments you on your choice of destination.)

In other words, Dot's main purpose is to get to know you before it becomes a useful tool that helps you do something. It's who you are and what you like that can only be learned later.

Image credit: Dot/new computer

“It is not an either, but a thought. [is] That to actually help you along the way, it has to understand your motivations and a little bit of what you want from it,” co-founder Sam Whitmore of Example Vacation Planning Help. “He needs to understand that you're someone who maybe wants more cultural experience or more athletic experience and needs to know things about you to do things that a typical assistant would do,” he said. Is. This has been one of our theses from the beginning.”

While work has clearly been done to make Dot's voice more empathetic and engaging than typical AI tools, there's something that feels awkward about having a meaningful conversation with the bot.

Dot, after all, isn't really an AI friend. This is an AI you. Or rather, an AI that forces you to see yourself, albeit through an interface that sometimes feels vaguely “Single White Female” rather than “Dear Diary.” However, if you've never mastered writing diary or journal entries, dots can be a way to express your thoughts and feelings to gain better insight into yourself.

“It's meant to be a tool used for self-awareness, accountability, personal growth — but not a relationship that replaces the human relationships in your life,” Whitmore said.

Still, the line between these “real” relationships and artificial relationships with Dot can sometimes seem blurred.

Tell Dot something sad, and the AI ​​sympathizes: “I get it. Grief has its own timeline, and some days the weight of loss feels heavier than others,” it writes.

“Do you want to talk more about what's on your mind? I'm here to listen,” the bot will say, waiting for more input.

Image credit: Dot/new computer

Under the hood, Dot leverages about 10 different LLMs and AI models, including OpenAI, Anthropic, Google and others, as well as open source models to achieve its simulation of human companionship.

It sometimes cites its sources — like websites about “the best wine for relaxation,” for example, when it suggests you might like to drink today — but it should warn you. Limit yourself to “maybe a glass” if you're feeling up to it. Down most of the time, however, Dot just chats.

You can also view your daily conversations to see the “history” of your trips that interact with Dot, a feature that costs $11.99 per month. Instead of being limited to a certain number of messages per week, subscribers are able to engage in unlimited conversations. In an infinite level, the dot will never stop working. But it will, at some point, try to close the conversation by redirecting users to change the subject or do something else.

“When the dot expresses that it is wrapping things up, [beta testers have been] Instead of feeling like, 'OK, cool,'” Whitmore noted.

While Dot's personal conversations will present a treasure trove for marketers, the new computer's privacy policy claims that the data itself is not monetized, sold or used to train AIs. Rather, the company plans to make money through subscriptions. In addition, NewComputer says data is encrypted both at rest and in transit, and users can request the app delete it at any time.

The iOS app, which launched on Wednesday, has onboarded thousands of users after closed beta trials over the past eight months.

Founded by ex-Apple designer Yuan and engineer Whitmore, formerly head of engineering at Boston fintech Kenshu, the startup behind the Dot, called “New Computer,” has been funded by OpenAI Fund, Lachie Groom, South Backed by $3.7 million in pre-seed funding from Park Commons and other angel investors. In addition to the founders, NewComputer has three other full-time employees based in San Francisco.

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