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Earlier this year, Google revealed that the AI it uses for its Translate tool had created its own language, which it would translate things into and then out of.
(That paper was published more than a month ago but began to pick up interest this week.) Facebook's experiment isn't the only time that artificial intelligence has invented new forms of language.
“Like if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item.
“Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves,” Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research division's visiting researcher Dhruv Batra said.
On the day before Replika was officially made available to the public, more than 1.5 million people had already queued up on the app's waiting list, in addition to the several hundred thousand who had already been granted access as part of a beta testing program.
But they were not told to use comprehensible English, allowing them to create their own "shorthand", according to researchers.
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The bizarre discussions came as Facebook challenged its chatbots to try and negotiate with each other over a trade, attempting to swap hats, balls and books, each of which were given a certain value.
But they quickly broke down as the robots appeared to chant at each other in a language that they each understood but which appears mostly incomprehensible to humans.