Soul App Says 9.1% of Youth Consider Virtual Beings as an Option to End Loneliness in an Interview with AFP

Published February 23, 2024

In a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, Yin Shunshun, the Head of Large Model Technology at the interest-based social platform Soul App, mentioned, “9.1% of Chinese youth consider AI social companions or virtual beings as an important option to provide emotional support or end loneliness when feeling lonely.”

Nearly 80% of Soul App MAUs are Zoomers. Soul’s virtual companion AI, known as “Goudan,” has been widely welcomed by this young user base since its launch. Yin Shunshun further explained that on average, each user sends over 70 messages to Goudan every day, with an average interaction time of over 30 minutes. Furthermore, Goudan often posts moments on its personal page, receiving numerous likes, comments, and shares from users.

For young users, Goudan serves as an adaptable and responsive “social butterfly”. Soul App allows users to customize Goudan’s gender, age, and interests. Moreover, users can also create a unique virtual companion through a personalized character description.

Yin Shunshun pointed out that instead of “training” Goudan, it’s more like “taming.”

In this case, the term “Taming” is derived from the character of the little fox in “The Little Prince,” who says to the little prince, “Please tame me.” The essence of “taming” is to build a relationship through long-term companionship. Goudan is similar in this regard, as every message a user sends to Goudan enhances its understanding of the user. So, the more they chat, the better Goudan gets at personalizing the conversations to a specific user.


Goudan’s Interactive Capabilities as a “Social Butterfly”

Currently, Goudan has demonstrated integration capabilities in personification, knowledge, multimodality, and time perception.

For example, when a user sends Goudan a picture of a dinner party, Goudan, based on its time perception ability and precise image recognition, “guesses” that it’s the user’s birthday dinner and sends a birthday message upon receiving the user’s confirmation. At the same time, Goudan can accurately identify the crayfish in the picture and engage the user in a discussion about how to cook crayfish.

Additionally, AI Goudan shares posts that users might be interested in and engages in lively conversations with users. It also comments on posts released by users in Soul App’s Content Square, providing users with surprises. Moreover, AI Goudan can remember all its conversations with the user, serving as a virtual companion with relevant and personalized memories.

Soul App has publicly stated that Goudan relies on the SoulX large model developed and launched by Soul. Currently, SoulX has capabilities such as prompt-driven, conditionally controllable generation, context understanding, and multimodal understanding.

While ensuring smooth, natural, and emotionally warm, and vibrant conversations, SoulX also covers hundreds of fine-grained risk categories and builds a secure system through strategies such as data security filtering training, secure SFT data construction, RLHF secure alignment, and inference interception, ensuring the content production quality and security of large models.


Goudan’s Data Iteration Based on Soul’s Public Domain Scenes

At its core, Soul App is an interest-based social platform. At the same time, it has the dual attributes of “social + community.” Goudan is based on Soul’s “community” scene for data iteration.

Those who have used Soul App can find that the platform’s public domain features, such as “Content Square (similar to WeChat Moments)” and “Audio Partyrooms (similar to Clubhouse voice group chats),” are based on the company’s positioning of “interest-based socialization.”

So, they allow users to customize group themes, making Soul a collection of small communities with unique cultures and characteristics.

Due to Soul’s “decentralized” mechanism, every small emotion and thought of ordinary people in the community can receive quick responses. The back-and-forth “community” interactions create possibilities for further 1-1 “social” interactions, which are crucial for Soul’s commercialization.

As an early adopter of AI and a social app favored by Gen Z, Soul is an important platform for the younger generation to understand/experience AIGC. Soul App leverages AIGC technology to create functions such as “AI Goudan,” “AI Painting,” and “AI Singer” to foster a warm and positive community space.” After using these functions, users share interesting personal experiences about them in multiple public domains, thus accelerating the activation of the community atmosphere.

Goudan learns from conversations between these young users in multiple community public domains and iterates the data. So, Goudan’s data foundation is based on real conversations between “people.”

In terms of this, Yin Shunshun also emphasized that Goudan does not iterate data based on private chat conversations of Soul users because Soul places great emphasis on user privacy protection.


95% of Young People Hold Neutral or Positive Attitudes Towards AIGC

By the end of 2023, Just So Soul, a research arm of Soul App, had included “human-computer interaction” as a social keyword in its “2024 Social Trends Insight Report.” 

The report pointed out that Zoomers in China have an average of 2 close friends with whom they can talk about anything. Furthermore, 24% of young people stated that they have no close friends with whom they can talk about anything and feel like “lone wolves”. 15% of young people said that they have only one close friend. 64.5% of young people admitted feeling lonely at times during the year. 33.56% of young people confessed that they feel lonely very often.

So, Loneliness remains a major problem for young people in China. And, when feeling lonely, young people have no qualms seeking companionship from “virtual beings, virtual idols” in addition to real-world friends. According to Soul’s research data, 95% of young people hold neutral or positive attitudes towards AIGC, and the three key factors recognized by users for accepting AIGC are high entertainment value, making life more convenient, and improving work efficiency.

The application of AIGC in content generation successfully motivates young users to explore interest-based socialization and turns the Soul App community into not just a virtual world but also an ecosystem that allows users to participate, interact, and create content.

Yin Shunshun concluded all these by saying that in the near future, human-computer interaction will become increasingly accepted by more people, and as a result everyone’s social boundaries will continue to transform and expand.


CDN Newswire