With Serial Experiments Lain‘s 25th anniversary comes a new AI chatbot that allows you to talk with Lain Iwakura.
The Lain AI, put together by Anique (a digital event logistics company and seller of collectibles/NFTs) is powered by OpenAI and voiced by CoeFont. The AI has been trained on archived recordings of Lain voice actress Kaori Shimizu and the original scripts of the anime. It also speaks in both Japanese and English using Shimizu’s voice as a template.
Shimizu had the following to say about the project:
“After 25 years since the creation of Lain, being involved in bringing her back to the world filled me with immense joy. To think that an AI has learned to reproduce my voice from 25 years ago gives me goosebumps! From the beginning, rather than acting in the role of Lain, I’ve always felt almost as if Lain simply borrowed my natural voice at the time. So, if I’m asked now to do Lain’s voice again, it’s true that I can replicate it, but I can’t become Lain again. That’s how different Lain really is from other roles I’ve played until now, and I’m delighted that Lain is continuously evolving. I’m curious how people new to Lain will feel as they delve into her world, and I sincerely hope that individuals from various generations and different countries will have the opportunity to experience the resurrected Lain in the modern era, brought to life through technology.”
The AI Lain is designed to be cold and terse at first—even avoiding showing her face to the user. However, as she becomes better acquainted with the user, she will become more friendly—showing different expressions visually and giving longer replies.
Unfortunately, it’s here that we run into the catch when it comes to this otherwise cool project: monetization. Users are only able to send Lain 10 messages before they need to start paying. It costs $20 a month for unlimited chatting (or $100 for 6 months). Paid users can suggest new words for Lain to learn and will be entered into a monthly raffle to win anime cels, framed artwork, and other collectibles. Meanwhile, the Sponsor Plan for a $ 5,000 flat fee comes with 10 unlimited memberships and a commercial usage license to the Lain AI itself.
Serial Experiments Lain story writer and producer Yasuyuki Ueda had the following to say about the project:
“Working with Anique on the AI lain service this time, I was keenly aware of the technical challenges of AI, the difficulty of implementation, and the challenges it faces as a service. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the process of AI Lain’s growth during the development, and I hope others can also enjoy this development or “experiment” process itself and Lain’s future growth.”
The AI Lain is currently being planned to have monthly updates, including various holiday events to keep her constantly evolving. It is already up and running and can be accessed via the official AI lain website.
Source: Press Release (Thanks to DokoMadeMo for the news tip)