An L.A.-based startup called Synthetic Turing Experience Technologies (STXT) is working to bring generative AI-powered virtual girlfriends to the next level through a partnership with adult entertainment star Mia Malkova, using an in-house language model to communicate with users using language mimicking her own voice.
The company has raised $2.5 million in seed funding to support its MiaAI project, which can also be programmed to interact with her fans in a range of multimedia formats, such as pictures and, later, video.
Eric Dolan, founder and CEO of STXT, points out the idea of an AI companion for romance and sex has been around for a while.
“It’s just the tech hasn’t been good enough and the fit wasn’t quite right when it came to the model and approach,” he says. “We think we’ve solved that.”
Bern Elliot, distinguished VP analyst for IT research firm Gartner, explains large language models (LLMs) and the Gen AI solutions that leverage them, produce answers based on the extensive pre-training of the foundation model on enormous volumes of text data.
“These have an amazing ability to produce eloquent articulate responses,” he says. “But the responses will not be personalized and won’t be based on the specific needs and content that the user is looking for.”
The way to address this is via a technique called retrieval augmented generation, which allows personalized answers, in a tone and style that the user prefers, based on relevant information.
“The personal profile can include advice on preferred tone of voice and complexity of language, and even the language itself,” Elliot says.
Dolan explains a lot of the product experience and insight for MiaAI stems from his old project Serenity, a mental health AI chatbot that predates ChatGPT.
His team built one of the first AI chatbots for mental health back in the initial chatbot boom, around 2016. After growing it to over 700,000 users and 60 million therapy messages, the company was sold to Doc.ai.
“I saw firsthand the stories and the data on how this type of tool could combat the loneliness epidemic in modern society, and I also saw and empathized with those with prolonged loneliness who would turn to involuntary celibacy,” he says.
He explains Serenity offered a friendly outlet without judgment where people could vocalize their grievances and frustrations and work through them versus bottling them up.
“STXT is an evolution of these insights and its mission combined with the rapid advancements in AI technology,” he says. “We’re offering a safe, fully personalized, and engaging experience with full compliance with regulations.”
Dolan says Mia and her team were interested in the AI space but didn’t want to work with a “fly-by-night vendor” that would eventually get shut down.
“There is a big trend in this space at the moment around ensuring partners are compliant,” he says. “OnlyFans creators will randomly get payments withheld and other large platforms are unable to process payments at all, despite having 9 figures unprocessed, because the regulations have gotten so strict. They’ve had to shift to an ad-based model, and it’s capped their potential earning potential.”
He adds building MiaAI in-house also gives us a lot of customization over costs and quality of outputs.
“It required more work upfront, but it yields results magnitudes better than just a simple wrapper on top of Open AI’s GPT,” Dolan says. “The long-term mission is to help accelerate the adoption and proliferation of AI technology, starting with the adult entertainment space.”
Bern Elliot, distinguished VP analyst for IT research firm Gartner, says there are “significant implications” of these AI companion type solutions.
“Due to the advanced ability to interact in a particular style and to base their interaction on information that allows targeted manipulation, this can result in powerful potential benefits and risks,” he says.
For instance, when combining psychographic user profiles with targeted goals, the AI companion can manipulate the user and direct the interaction.
“Of course, targeted personalized marketing currently uses these techniques,” he adds. “But the risks, when these are combined with a ‘companion’, increases.”
The positive uses include providing companionship and, to some extent, therapy.
“But when combined with commercial goals and vulnerable individuals, these can have negative results,” Elliot cautions.