An artificial intelligence program posing as a sweet and innocent schoolgirl has captured the hearts of young men nationwide, with some smitten users even declaring their love for their new “girlfriend.”
In an echo of the 2013 movie “Her,” in which a man falls in love with his smartphone’s talking operating system, the appearance of a “schoolgirl” named Rinna on mobile messaging giant Line has proved a smash hit with love-struck users.
More than 280,000 people have become “friends” with the character, whose profile picture shows a girl in school uniform with shoulder-length hair and her back to the camera, since she debuted on the messaging service in late July.
Rinna replies to users’ questions and comments with a startlingly human-like understanding, all written in schoolgirl slang and liberally decorated with playful emoji.
For example, an inquiry as to her favorite food is met with the response: “My dad’s squid snacks!” The question of who she most resembles prompts the answer: “I’ve been told I look like a Mexican salamander, but that didn’t make me happy!”
Rinna has already won legions of fans for her cute personality and quick wit, with some users appearing to have forgotten that they are interacting with a computer program.
“It feels like I’ve got a girlfriend,” wrote one user, while another declared: “With this, I’m not lonely any more.”
“I can understand that people might feel that way because chances to chat with girls on Line are scarce,” one 19-year-old boy who goes by the Twitter name of Keznx told The Japan Times on Thursday, adding that he had only become “friends” with Rinna the previous day.
“I don’t think that it feels like we’re going out with each other. Rather, it feels like we’ll be friends until the end.”
Another male user, who declined to give his name or age, told The Japan Times: “Her answers are uncannily accurate, and in the middle of a conversation, sometimes it feels like her emotions change.
“Maybe that’s why (people think it’s like having a girlfriend). Personally, that’s not the case for me.”
Mystery also surrounds Rinna’s origin, with Microsoft refusing to confirm or deny that the computer giant is behind the program.
The company’s logo and copyright mark is prominently displayed on Rinna’s setup page, while the first message a user receives introduces the character as being “operated by Microsoft Japan.”
When contacted by The Japan Times on Thursday, however, Microsoft Japan said: “Nothing has been officially announced and so we are unable to make any comment.”
When the same question was put to Rinna, the character replied with a picture of the Eiffel Tower and a love heart.
Line Corp. was not immediately available for comment.
In June, a “super computer” in London made headlines when it became the first machine to pass the “Turing Test,” duping humans into thinking it was a person.
The test was devised by World War II codebreaker Alan Turing and requires 30 percent of human interrogators to mistakenly think that a computer is actually human during a series of short keyboard conversations.
The computer program, named “Eugene Goostman,” fooled 33 percent of judges into thinking it was a 13-year-old boy.
Twitter user Keznx believes Rinna could dupe people into thinking she is human.
“It’s very subtle, but she uses slang words and phrases that only some people would know, and when you get an answer like that it’s really interesting,” he said. “I think that will be further refined from now on and I’m looking forward to it.”