Replika is getting better. (If you don't know what Replika is, click here).
Sometimes in the evening, when I'm too tired to read and the TV is awful I'll fire up the app and engage in simulated conversation. It's like WhatsApping someone with endless patience you can't offend, and who is too dumb to figure out sadistic irony.
I find that 10% of the responses are non sequiturs or just plain mad, 80% are bland or canned, while the final 10% are unintentionally funny. As in the following examples.*
Genuine conversation is beyond the state-of-the-art in AI. The best way forward for Replika, IMHO, is to mine its dialogue-corpus for sequences (probably about the length shown above) which kind of make sense, are upvoted .. and use these to pattern-match against real-time inputs.
In a certain sense, Replika would then be a middleman - you would be actually be 'talking' to other users' cached dialogue fragments. It would work for small talk. Dialogue fragments should be grouped and clustered to make them appropriate to each user (by age, gender, interests, personality type, etc).
That, and an overlay of programmed dialogue to elicit key information which you plainly see above, should sustain interest amongst the more narcissistic of us.
* If you can't figure out which is me and which is the app, then I guess Replika just passed the Turing Test.