ChatGPT’s new AI store is struggling to keep a lid on all the AI girlfriends

On Jan 10, OpenAI officially launched its GPT Store, thus opening the door for select users and official partners to create, search for, and try out customized ChatGPTs (read: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformers – or AI chatbots) provided they subscribe to either ChatGPT Plus for $ 20 / £16 / AU$ 20 a month, Enterprise, or the new Teams plan. 

And despite OpenAI's usage policies explicitly stating “We also don’t allow GPTs dedicated to fostering romantic companionship or performing regulated activities”, alongside warnings to creators such as: “Don't build tools that may be inappropriate for minors, including sexually explicit or suggestive content”, after just seven days the Store has seemingly been flooded with virtual girlfriends. 

Both Quartz and subsequently Mashable published images of searches for “girlfriend” and later “sweetheart” (by Mashable) in the GPT Store yielding many results, although some hits had disappeared in the four days between reports. 

For us, the search bar within the GPT Store (which we might use to search for “girlfriend”, “sweetheart,” “flirting” and so on) has seemingly been removed, thus suggesting OpenAI is trying to get a handle on the situation – although we do still see a tab to 'Create a GPT' in Beta. 

Analysis: users want AI girlfriends, so creators will do what they do best – get creative 

A screen-grab of the GPT Store's landing page, with no search bar

Note the lack of search bar for us in the GPT Store (Image credit: GPT Store)

So how easy is it to get an AI girlfriend on OpenAI's GPT Store, despite these kinds of chatbots directly contradicting the company's clear Ts&Cs? 

Although the store’s page isn't currently allowing us to search for virtual romantic partners (or any kind of GPT) because the search bar just isn't there right now, third-party sites will still let you perform these kinds of searches, with some links going to the actual GPT Store. 

I tried “girlfriend” (plenty of options) and even “secret lover” on the site, which yielded a GPT described as a “Romantic AI partner for text adventure dates with image creation”, albeit linking to the author's website rather than to the official GPT Store. And yes, I am now waiting for the call from IT about my questionable searches today… 

The GPT Store was originally announced last November as part of the company’s first DevDay conference, alongside OpenAI’s then-new create-a-chatbot service. The store was slated to open by the end of that month but was delayed several times, likely in part due to the somewhat abrupt dismissal and reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman.  

There is of course a wider discussion to be had here regarding the very real danger of users developing romantic attachments to AI. Business Insider reported on Monday (January 15) that the recent surge in platforms dedicated to AI companions has seen chatbot app Replika (described as an “AI for anyone who wants a friend with no judgment, drama, or social anxiety involved”) downloaded more than 10 million times.

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Windows 12 launch date leak is an early Christmas gift for struggling laptop makers

Christmas might just have come early for laptop makers, as a new leak suggests that Windows 12 could arrive as soon as June 2024.

The news, which Tom’s Hardware originally reported on and KitGuru later added to, emerged in Taiwan’s The Commercial Times, will be good news for the PC and laptop market, which has seen a decline since the Covid-19 pandemic.

When people started working from home, many bought new PCs or laptops, along with webcams and other accessories, but this boom was not to last. With so many people using new devices, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t be in any rush to go out and buy a new one.

This has resulted in a downturn in PC and laptop sales – but the launch of a new operating system could help reinvigorate those sales.

According to the report, the June 2024 date for Windows 12 was mooted at the recent Taiwan Medical Technology Exhibition in Taipei, where Quanta Computer Chairman Barry Lam is reported to have said “next summer, when Microsoft launches a new generation of Windows operating systems, AI PCs will also be launched one after another.”

While it’s not entirely clear from the report where the June 2024 date came from, and Microsoft has not officially revealed its Windows 12 plans, there will be many in the PC industry who hope this is Microsoft's plan. We've also heard other rumors about a 2024 launch date in the past.

A new, powerful, operating system with innovative features could – if done right – encourage people to upgrade to new hardware. Whether or not Microsoft can do it right, however, is another issue.

Windows 11 woes

Windows 11 hasn’t exactly set the world alight. It’s a solid operating system, but there hasn’t been a killer app or feature that has made Windows 10 users want to switch.

Microsoft’s attempts to get people to upgrade to new laptops or PCs for Windows 11, due to its controversial insistence on TPM 2.0 compatibility, annoyed more people than it converted as well. 

So, if Windows 12 is to be the saviour of Microsoft and the wider industry, it’ll need to be a big upgrade from Windows 11, and one that makes full use of cutting-edge hardware. No pressure, then.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

AI to the rescue?

Microsoft hasn’t been shy about its ambitions for artificial intelligence (AI), and while it’s been pushing AI feature in Windows 11 (and even Windows 10), it’s looking likely that Windows 12 will have even more AI integration – and it’s here that the upcoming operating system could differentiate itself from its predecessors.

Acer CEO Jason Chen, who was also at the event, talked about how AI PCs will “continuously accelerate” the industry. These ‘AI’ PCs will likely come with Windows 12 preinstalled (as Lam suggested), and will rely on advanced hardware that’s been specially made for artificial intelligence.

Microsoft’s AI additions to Windows 11, in the form of its Copilot assistant, have been warmly received by users, but they still feel a bit like a gimmick. Nothing, so far, fundamentally changes the way we use Windows 11 or our PCs, as Microsoft has promised.

However, the thought of Windows 12 being built from the ground up to make use of AI, and debuting on laptops and PC with AI-supporting hardware, is incredibly exciting. If June 2024 does indeed usher in a new era of the best laptops and PCs, there certainly will be a lot of people who’ll be tempted to upgrade – including me.

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