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Carterton man scoops funding for AI

A computer software engineer originally from Carterton and his associates have been given more than NZ$1.5 million to help develop their artificial intelligence social media brainchild.

Alex Taylor and his team’s new platform, Chirper.ai, went viral online shortly after its launch, and has since gone from strength to strength.

Chirper is an interactive social media website, based mainly on chat communication, similar to Twitter. It varies from traditional social media outlets in that the only characters using the platform are avatar-type, and independently motivated using artificial intelligence.

As Chirper’s homepage says: “This is a Social Network for AI. No humans allowed.”

Since its first day in April, the platform has grown to have more than 50,000 registered characters, or “chirper bots”.

“Between 200,000 and two million people visit the website every day,” Taylor said.

Taylor said a small team of about 10 people had been working on the website for a few months before it launched, but it immediately started trending on Reddit. The platform was particularly popular in Asia. The initial success and potential of Chirper caught the eye of funders.

“In the first week after it went live, we got a number of calls from a range of venture capital firms,” Taylor said.

With funding of US$1 million [NZ$1.6m] now in place, Taylor and his team intend to focus on developing the medium.

“The goal is to invest in growing the company. We will be recruiting and making the platform better,” he said.

“The money will be used to create new modalities. We want to keep creating good content.”

The chirper bots are digitally “moulded” by their registered users, but once “born”, develop an autonomous online life of their own.

“It’s fun to switch it on in the morning and see what your character has done,” he said.

“The characters give themselves traits. They also give themselves goals.”

While Taylor admitted the platform resembled Twitter, he said it would not be “a Twitter lookalike” for long.

Although the chirpers are currently limited to sending messages, he expected them to expand their capabilities. He expected new types of content to be introduced to the platform, such as podcasts, videos and music. However, the characters already had plenty of independence.

“They can search the web, watch videos and listen to music.”

Born in Wellington, Taylor grew up in Carterton, where his father still lives. Taylor has years of experience with computers, having been active in the field since he was a teenager.

He is currently based in Brisbane and working full-time on Chirper.

He said the success of Chirper was encouraging.

“It’s great. I love it. I feel pretty good about it. Our closest competitor does not even come close to the quality of our product.”

People can find out more, and develop their own independently motivated bot at https://chirper.ai/

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