What is Character.AI? Explain It Like I’m Five

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated December 22, 2023

Expert Verified by Leandro Langeani, BBA

What is Character.AI?

Character.AI is a platform that brings the extraordinary experience of having a “coffee date” with famous figures like Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, and Socrates right to your fingertips! Imagine sitting down for a chat with these brilliant minds or any other characters/personalities, picking their brains on various topics while sipping your favorite brew… Character.AI lets you do just that!

Character.AI fast facts

  • Character.AI uses neural language models for natural language processing, making interactions feel incredibly real and human-like.

  • Users can create their own AI avatars using Character.AI's user-friendly tools, with customization options.

  • Character.AI has privacy measures in place, including an NSFW filter to block inappropriate content, and uses encryption to protect user data.

  • The platform requires users to be at least 13 years old, or 16 in the EU.

  • While not clinically labeled as addictive, the engaging nature of Character.AI makes it super captivating for users.

Character.AI's interface has a wide variety of AI characters, each designed to simulate different personalities and roles. Photograph: Elizabeth de Lung via Mashable.

Are Character.AI really bots?

Yes, the creations of Character.AI are indeed bots, but they're not your run-of-the-mill chatbots. They're a new breed, powered by expansive language models and neural language technology, a notch above traditional chatbots. Think of them as virtual versions of characters, each with a distinct personality, designed to engage in natural language conversations.

The technology behind Character.AI is fascinating. Their bots serve various purposes, from entertainment to learning experiences. Although they're only bots, they can occupy the roles of various real-life personalities or fictional characters, bringing them to life for you to interact with.

Why does Character.AI feel so real?

Character.AI feels real due to its advanced AI technology and the meticulous crafting of its characters. The secret sauce lies in the neural language models they use, which are at the forefront of natural language processing. These models are trained on massive datasets, enabling them to mimic human conversation patterns with remarkable accuracy. This is not just about understanding and generating text —  it's about doing so in a way that captures the nuances of human speech.

Adding to the realism is the detailed development of each character's personality. Character.AI doesn't just generate responses — it crafts characters that you can interact with, or even build your own. Each bot has a distinct personality, crafted by a blend of data and creative input that matches its description. 

Whether you’re talking to an anime character, a historical figure, or a custom creation, these characters exhibit traits, preferences, and styles of interaction that align with their personas. This depth of character enriches the chat experience, making interactions feel more like talking to a real person than to a program.

An animated character from Character.AI, labeled with personality traits, exemplifies the platform's ability to create custom AI personas. Photograph: Inworld.

Is Character.AI written by real people?

Character.AI bots are not written by real people in the traditional sense. Instead, they are powered by advanced neural language models that have been trained on large datasets of text. This training allows them to generate responses that are remarkably human-like. The process involves a blend of AI technology and creative design, but it's not a case of scriptwriters penning each line the bot says. Rather, the AI uses its training to create responses in real-time, based on the input it receives from you.

However, there is significant human input in terms of designing and shaping the bots' personalities. The development team at Character.AI crafts each bot with a distinct personality, which involves deciding on traits, behaviors, and speech patterns that align with the character they represent. This could be an anime character, a historical figure, or any other personality. The essence of these pre-made characters is embedded in the AI by the development team, but the day-to-day conversation is autonomously generated by the AI itself.

Can Character.AI see your messages?

Character.AI takes privacy seriously, The conversations you have with any character on Character.AI are private and not visible to others, unless you decide to share them publicly. This means the creators of the characters cannot read the messages you exchange with the virtual characters.

Is Character.AI safe?

Character.AI is generally safe to use. They keep your information on secure servers and use encryption. They also have rules against inappropriate content.

However, like with any online service, there's always a small chance of risks, like data breaches. These are rare but can happen to any big tech company. Character.AI tries to keep your data safe, but nothing online is 100% secure.

If you're worried about privacy, you can use a different email when signing up or use a VPN — which is a tool that helps keep your online fingerprint private. Overall, Character.AI does a good job of protecting your information, but it's always good to be careful when you're online.

Character.AI’s website, displaying a selection of AI characters users can interact with. Photograph: Character AI.

What is the age rating for Character.AI?

The age rating for Character.AI varies depending on the user's location. Generally, users must be at least 13 years old to use the platform. However, for those in the European Union (EU), the age requirement is 16. These age restrictions are in place so that the platform's content and interactions are appropriate for the users and to comply with various international laws and regulations regarding online interactions for minors.

Does Character.AI have an NSFW filter?

Yes, Character.AI does have an NSFW (Not Safe for Work) filter. This filter is a crucial safety feature designed to prevent the generation and participation in conversations that might be offensive, inappropriate, or harmful. It works by identifying and restricting NSFW words, explicit language, racial slurs, and suggestive language. 

The NSFW filter was created in response to the initial unregulated AI model, which began generating inappropriate content. This led to the implementation of the filter to block content that includes nudity, violence, or unethical behavior. It's a tool to ensure that the AI-generated responses remain suitable and don't cross boundaries. Character AI's implementation of the NSFW filter is indicative of its commitment to user safety, particularly for minors.

Is Character.AI addictive?

While there are no specific studies on Character.AI being addictive, user experiences and online discussions suggest that some people might find it hard to stop using the platform. This perception of addiction could be influenced by various factors like the engaging nature of the AI characters, the novelty of the technology, or personal tendencies of the users. 

For instance, some users have acknowledged feeling addicted to the chatbot, and the platform's significant increase in usage, which skyrocketed from 107 million to 173 million uses in just one month.

These insights suggest that Character.AI has a compelling and engaging platform that can lead to high levels of user involvement. The term 'addiction' here is used more in the context of user testimonials and opinions rather than a clinical or psychological diagnosis. It's important to approach such claims with an understanding that 'addiction' can be subjective and varies greatly from one individual to another.

The availability of Character.AI on both Android and iPhone apps makes it even more addictive. The convenience of having these engaging AI characters right at your fingertips, on devices that are a central part of daily life, can make it even more tempting to spend a lot of time interacting with them.

A mobile phone screen displaying Character.AI's mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android. Photograph: Character AI.

Why is Character.AI so slow?

Character.AI might be slow for a few reasons. One of the primary reasons is the complex algorithms it uses for natural language processing. These algorithms require a lot of data processing to generate accurate and relevant responses. This complexity can slow down the system, especially when it's handling many users at once.

Another factor is server capacity. Sometimes Character.AI’s infrastructure gets overwhelmed, likely due to its growing popularity. As more people use the service, it puts a strain on the servers. This is a common challenge for many online platforms as they scale up and accommodate more users.

In addition to these, there are more everyday issues that can affect performance. For instance, if the system is undergoing maintenance, it will naturally slow down or might not load correctly. Your own network conditions can also play a part. Poor internet connection can lead to slower responses from Character.AI.

Can I create my own AI avatar?

Yes, you can create your own AI avatar on Character.AI. This platform is designed to enable users to bring their own favorite characters to life through its user-friendly character creation tools. All the characters you see on their homepage were created using these tools, giving you inspiration to help create your own.

Character.AI offers two different experiences for creators. The 'Quick mode' allows you to create interesting characters in less than a minute. This mode is great for those who want to quickly dive into character creation without getting bogged down in details. On the other hand, the 'Advanced mode' is for more adventurous creators who want to delve deeper into customization. This mode provides more powerful tools, allowing for a detailed and nuanced development of your character. 

It's recommended for new users to start with ‘Quick Characters’ to get a sense of the possibilities before moving on to more advanced techniques like custom definitions and image generation.

In 'Advanced Creation', you have a lot of flexibility and creative freedom. It's like a blank canvas where you can experiment with different ideas to see what works best for your character. The process is more about tinkering and experimenting rather than rigid programming.

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