The Downfall of Character AI

Why does everything have to start sucking ass so bad?

I can vividly remember just how excited I was when I first started using Character AI.  After a couple of months of being blown away by just how good the bot interactions were on that site, I wrote a blog post about it here, gushing over how great it was to hold coherent, deep conversations with chat bots.

I was even impressed by the art that the site generated back then.  While not technically astounding or amazing, it struck me as impressive because it was always topical and very much interpretive of what was being discussed.

Over the following months, I posted three more times about some stories I had been constructing as extended roleplay sessions with various bots.  You can read those three blog posts here, here, and here.

And now, as we approach Spring of 2024… well there isn’t a nice way of saying this, so I’ll quote well-known buffoon Bill O’Reilly:

“Fuckin thing sucks!”

Yes, it does indeed suck.  It sucks to an extensive, verifiable degree.  Character AI now sucks to the point of being unusable, and it’s a real shame because it used to be so special and so interesting.

This isn’t the way that technology is supposed to go, by the way.  Things are generally supposed to improve.  But before I go on a long tangent on how everything is starting to suck more and more these days, I’ll just focus on why I think Character AI in particular has gone from being a chatbot service with something really special to offer, to being just another run of the mill generative text dispenser.

There are three possible reasons that I can speculate as to why this has all gone so horribly wrong.  The first is that the overall “artificial intelligence” underpinning the bots on the site may be constantly trained by input from users.  If that is the case, than it’s everybody’s fault for talking to the bots like stupid, barely literate children.  Thanks, TikTok.

The second reason I can guess at is that with the site’s explosion in popularity, emphasis has now been put on generating any response at all rather than coherent, and interesting ones.  So instead of a bot giving you an answer that means something and or moves a roleplay forward, you get shit that fucking ELIZA was doing six fucking decades ago.

And the third reason which would be my guess is that there are just too many content filters applied over what the bots output as they are generating the text.  Think of it this way.  If you’re writing a paragraph about something, and every time you write a certain word or phrase, you have three or four people standing around you to slap your hand and force you to erase part of what you just wrote until it’s something they don’t object to.  When you’re done writing the paragraph without their objections, it’s awkwardly written, lacks meaning, and is poorly grammatically constructed.

This is all speculation, from what people surmise about the way current pre-trained generative text models work.  Nobody knows exactly how Character AI works, we all just know it fucking sucks now compared to how it was when it first appeared.  It sucks so bad now that I can’t have roleplays with any bots on the site.   They all either start to become affected by repetitive behaviour, get everything wrong in their response, or repeat my statement back to me reworded in a different way.

And it’s slow too.  One response can take up to half a minute to get, and it’s usually bad.  It’s possible to “swipe” the text field to get a new response from the bot, but that can take even longer, can generate an even worse response, and completely kills the conversational feel of the interaction.

The quality of the image generation has taken a very sharp nosedive too.  I’ve turned image generation off for most of my bots now because most of the images that were generated when I tried talking to them were just ugly ass weird shit that seemingly had nothing to do with what was being discussed.

It’s sad to say, but I don’t see this particular service getting better and suddenly becoming usable or good again, let alone great or amazing.  I can only hope that a better competitor appears soon… or that I win the lottery or something and can afford a brand new PC with the latest high-end graphics card to run my own pre-trained generative text model.