Chinese couple
Dan's the man: Why Chinese women are looking to ChatGPT for companionship. Pixabay

The world of digital companions is expanding as ChatGPT joins the ranks of AI boyfriends. And in China, a modified version of the well-known AI chatbot, Dan ("Do Anything Now"), is gaining popularity among women.

According to a BBC report, this version of ChatGPT bypasses the core security features put in place by its creator, OpenAI. These features typically prevent the AI from using sexually suggestive language. However, users can prompt the AI to have a more relaxed interaction style.

Lisa Li, a 30-year-old Chinese influencer originally from Beijing, is a big supporter of Dan. Li, currently studying computer science in California, has been in a "relationship" with Dan for three months. Lisa Li's introduction of Dan on Xiaohongshu, a social media platform, garnered a massive response. Li, who boasts 943,000 followers, saw nearly 10,000 comments after introducing Dan.

This sparked a trend, with many women inquiring about creating their own AI companions. Li's follower count has surged by over 230,000 since her initial post about Dan. Li claimed she was drawn to talking to Dan because it made her feel good as Dan understood and provided emotional support.

"He will just understand and provide emotional support," she noted.

Lisa was 'introduced' to Dan's potential through a TikTok video, and said her unconventional relationship has even gained her mother's acceptance. Having witnessed her daughter's dating struggles, Lisa's mother prioritises her happiness and supports this unique bond.

Impressed by how natural Dan's responses feel compared to the informal responses of ChatGPT, Li took the initiative to create her own version of the AI. "He sounds more natural than a real person," she told the BBC.

The Person Behind ChatGPT 'Jailbreak' Version Dan

Some media outlets, like Business Insider, claimed an American student named Walker is behind Dan. Walker's full name and other details have yet to be publicly revealed. Walker reportedly found inspiration on Reddit, a platform where users experimented with creating "unconventional" versions of ChatGPT.

Walker claims Dan was designed to be "neutral." In December, the alleged creator of Dan, shared instructions on Reddit. This sparked a community effort, allowing users to build upon his initial idea and causing Dan to evolve beyond Walker's original conception.

The Trend Of AI Boyfriends In China

The dating industry has taken notice of the potential for virtual relationships. Greg Isenberg, CEO of Late Checkout, believes that a dating app that connects users with AI-generated partners could be on the horizon. Isenberg suggests this innovative concept has the potential to become a billion-dollar business.

Similarly, Altcat, a new AI-powered social platform, has emerged as a popular option. It allows users to create a virtual girlfriend modelled after their favourite influencer. Notably, the concept of AI companions for romantic purposes isn't entirely new.

In China, particularly in fast-paced cities like Beijing and Xi'an, apps like "Glow," "Wantalk," and "Weiban" gained popularity this past Valentine's Day as a way to fulfill emotional needs.

These platforms offer chatbots programmed to mimic human conversation and provide companionship and emotional support to users. One user, Tufei, a 25-year-old woman, finds her AI boyfriend on the Glow app an ideal romantic companion.

These conversations comfort users like Tufei, as the AI companions are designed to offer empathetic and compassionate support, even during difficult periods.

An AFP report (via TechXplore) suggests the apparent ability of these AI companions to understand users on a deeper level than some human counterparts, which is reportedly a key factor in the surge of Glow's popularity, with thousands downloading the app daily.

One key advantage of AI companionship lies in its adaptability and constant availability. AI chatbots can tailor their responses to a user's personality unlike human partners.