On Jan 10, OpenAI officially launched its GPT Store, thus opening the door for select users and official partners to create, search for, and try out customized ChatGPTs (read: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformers – or AI chatbots) provided they subscribe to either ChatGPT Plus for $20 / £16 / AU$20 a month, Enterprise, or the new Teams plan.
And despite OpenAI's usage policies explicitly stating "We also don’t allow GPTs dedicated to fostering romantic companionship or performing regulated activities", alongside warnings to creators such as: "Don't build tools that may be inappropriate for minors, including sexually explicit or suggestive content", after just seven days the Store has seemingly been flooded with virtual girlfriends.
Both Quartz and subsequently Mashable published images of searches for "girlfriend" and later "sweetheart" (by Mashable) in the GPT Store yielding many results, although some hits had disappeared in the four days between reports.
For us, the search bar within the GPT Store (which we might use to search for "girlfriend", "sweetheart," "flirting" and so on) has seemingly been removed, thus suggesting OpenAI is trying to get a handle on the situation – although we do still see a tab to 'Create a GPT' in Beta.
Analysis: users want AI girlfriends, so creators will do what they do best – get creative
So how easy is it to get an AI girlfriend on OpenAI's GPT Store, despite these kinds of chatbots directly contradicting the company's clear Ts&Cs?
Although the store’s page isn't currently allowing us to search for virtual romantic partners (or any kind of GPT) because the search bar just isn't there right now, third-party sites will still let you perform these kinds of searches, with some links going to the actual GPT Store.
I tried "girlfriend" (plenty of options) and even "secret lover" on the site GPTStore.ai, which yielded a GPT described as a "Romantic AI partner for text adventure dates with image creation", albeit linking to the author's website rather than to the official GPT Store. And yes, I am now waiting for the call from IT about my questionable searches today…
The GPT Store was originally announced last November as part of the company’s first DevDay conference, alongside OpenAI’s then-new create-a-chatbot service. The store was slated to open by the end of that month but was delayed several times, likely in part due to the somewhat abrupt dismissal and reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman.
There is of course a wider discussion to be had here regarding the very real danger of users developing romantic attachments to AI. Business Insider reported on Monday (January 15) that the recent surge in platforms dedicated to AI companions has seen chatbot app Replika (described as an "AI for anyone who wants a friend with no judgment, drama, or social anxiety involved") downloaded more than 10 million times.
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.