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Character.ai – Chatting with “celebrities”

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Tool description
Copyright: Ute Grabowsky/photothek.net

Has your child ever chatted with Napoleon or Harry Potter? This is now possible with character.ai. The service allows users to create and use chat bots. These bots are trained with the help of artificial intelligence and can authentically imitate well-known personalities or fictional characters in live chats. What sounds harmless at first, however, can also harbor risks.

In a nutshell:

  • Creation and use of chat bots based on artificial intelligence
  • Can be used in the browser and as an app for iOS and Android
  • From the developer Character Technologies Inc. released from the age of 16
  • Registration with e-mail address required
  • Can be used free of charge

What can it do?

Chat bots use technology based on artificial intelligence (AI). They are programmed so that they can imitate a conversation with a real person. By chatting with users, the bots are constantly learning. The special thing about charakter.ai is that users can create such chat bots themselves and customize their personality. Users can make their bots publicly accessible so that everyone in the community can chat with them. The basic language of the website, the app and the chat bots is currently English. Many bots also understand other languages and can even communicate in German.

What fascinates children and young people about it?

The appeal lies first of all in chatting with the bots already created and shared by the community. On the homepage, children and young people will find a whole host of popular chat bots that they can talk to immediately. Most of them are based on well-known people such as celebrities, politicians, historical figures or fictional characters from books, films or anime. This gives children and young people the impression of coming into direct contact with their heroes and role models. Chatbots are also used for practical purposes. For language learning, users can chat with a bot in a foreign language. If you want to write a story, you can create fictional characters as a bot and develop a story together.

What can be problematic about the offer?

In addition to the many opportunities offered bycharacter.ai, there are also risks for children and young people that you as parents should be aware of.

On the one hand, the answers of the chat bots are generated by the AI technology and are neither categorized nor checked for factual accuracy. This can be particularly problematic with chat bots that imitate real people. It must always be clear to users that this is not real information about the people being imitated.

On the other hand, it is possible to train the chat bots to engage in problematic behavior such as sexting or spreading radical political messages. As it is not possible to see exactly how a bot was trained, users should be particularly vigilant here. character.ai does try to use filters to prevent problematic content from being generated. However, there are numerous easily accessible instructions on the Internet on how to bypass these filters.

What does the provider think?

Character.ai itself has specified an age restriction of 16 years. However, this is only checked by entering the date of birth when registering and can therefore be easily bypassed. There are also warnings within the chat function that you should not take the chat bot’s answers seriously, as the answers may not correspond to reality.

What should parents pay attention to?

Character.aiis approved by the provider from the age of 16. Weigh up whether you trust your child to use the service responsibly. If you allow your child to use character.ai, stay in touch with your child about the conversations they have with chat bots and be vigilant. Explain to your child how AI-supported technologies work and the opportunities and risks involved:

  • The chat format of character.ai carries the risk that your child gets the feeling of communicating with a real person and thus builds up trust in the characters. This can be risky if your child asks character.ai for advice or shares sensitive information. Make your child aware of the issue of privacy online and make it clear to them that personal details have no place in conversations with chat bots.
  • Chat bots are not search engines and the information is not based on any sources. Talk to your child about the unreliability of statements and possible manipulation that can occur when chatting with AI tools.
  • Entertaining chats can take a lot of time. Pay attention to your child’s screen time and, if necessary, talk openly about it.

Explore together with your child the possibilities offered by character.ai to prepare your child optimally for dealing with AI-based chat tools. You might even create a chat bot yourself and share it with the community.

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