The company countersued Silva, alleging that she absconded with confidential "work product and training materials," and posted pictures of her on a jet ski to suggest she wasn't so injured after all.

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These programs can be modified for any purpose, though designing a believable online dating companion can take considerable time and effort — perhaps too much for some of the troops at Ashley Madison.

In 2012, Doriana Silva, a former Ashley Madison employee in Toronto, sued Avid Life Media for $20 million complaining that she suffered from repetitive strain injury while creating over 1,000 sexbots — known within the company as "Ashley's Angels" — for the site.

Internal documents leaked during the Ashley Madison hack detail how, according to a 2013 email from managing director Keith Lalonde to then-CEO Noel Biderman, the company improved sex machine production for "building Angels enmass [sic]." This was done, Lalonde wrote, because the staff was getting "writers block when making them one at a time and were not being creative enough." (Reps for Ashley Madison did not return requests for comment).

According to leaked emails, to create the bots, the staff utilized photos from what they described as "abandoned profiles" that were at least two years old.

A whopping 59 percent of all online traffic — not just dating sites — is generated by bots, according to the tech analyst firm, Are You a Human. Spammers are using them to lure victims on Tinder, according to multiple studies by Symantec, the computer security firm.

Whether you know it or not, odds are you've encountered one. "The majority of the matches are often bots," says Satnam Narang, Symantec’s senior response manager. Keeping the automated personalities at bay has become a central challenge for software developers.

"And it happens across the industry."Conru and AFF's CEO, Jon Buckheit, another Stanford Ph.

D., boot up the site of a top competitor, Fling, and demonstrate how, shortly after registering, they are wooed by what appear to be bots. "We doubt it really is Megan Summers."In an email, Fling owner Abe Smilowitz writes, "We absolutely don't use fake profiles and bots…Us and AFF are pretty much the only guys that don't." This could be true. "We still think they do."To keep out the bots of spammers and hackers on AFF, Conru, who launched the site shortly after getting his doctorate as a means to meet women, codes his own countermeasures and frequently checks user names and IP addresses for veracity.

The company suffered a massive hack that exposed the profiles of an estimated 3.5 million members — which generated international headlines by revealing high-profile kink-seekers on Capitol Hill, in Hollywood and higher education.

"I don't know if I can disclose this," Conru says, "but recently, I had a guy do a search to see, like, White House.gov, and we found that there are lots of .govs, and a lot of "The company incentivizes members to prove they're who they say they are by sending in copies of their drivers licenses in return for a "verified" button on their profiles (similar to the little blue checks on Twitter accounts).

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