Are you feeling alone? Find how AI-driven mates are proving to be a human’s best friend.

 

 

  • Introduction
  • AI-driven Mate – Your ‘Best Buddy’?
  • Understanding ‘AI Amigo’
  • AI-driven Mates – True Friendship?
  • AI-driven Chatbot Revolution
  • Takeaway

 

 

Introduction

Have you ever pondered if AI-driven bots might be the ones to have meaningful interactions with people?

Before the internet, before smartphones, youngsters and young people would look for quizzes in comics, read problem pages in women’s publications, and watch television for guidance on being themselves. Young people would network with one another to discover their identities as they grew up by sharing a passion for pop stars, fashion trends, and musical movements.

Today, we are in an extended adolescent period, with youngsters studying for longer and delaying marriage and parenthood. Furthermore, cutting-edge technologies give new ways to keep in touch and even make new pals – for example, social media. Mobile media allows us to explore our sense of self anytime and anywhere through experimentation with online identity. And friendships, as they have always been, are an essential part of the equation.

However, the methods of such connections are frequently quite different from how adult friendships operate. We’ve reached the technological age of the invisible or imagined companion, a characteristic that many of us recall from our youth. Today, this might be a digital buddy who is always accessible and allows us to play with our identity as we mature since there is no danger of receiving biting criticism or taking responsibility for one’s actions. There are several advantages to this, to be sure, but the self-centred nature of such friendships may cause anxiety in actual physical relationships and stress during live social gatherings.

Those looking to create new and innovative digital experiences have found that combining social anxiety with technology addiction, such as smartphones and social media, is advantageous. It should come as no surprise that the development of a “real” virtual online imaginary friend now exists for download.

In the film “Robot and Frank,” the protagonist, a former cat burglar named Frank, is experiencing early indications of dementia. His son purchases him a “home robot” that can chat, cook meals, and clean to keep him company as he begins to forget things. It’s a machine that resembles those we are developing in the real world.

The film follows Frank, who was initially repulsed by the prospect of cohabiting with a machine, as he gradually comes to appreciate the robot as both functionally beneficial and socially acceptable. The story closes with a clear relationship between man and machine, such that when they run into difficulties together, Frank becomes protective of the robot.

This is, of course, a work of fiction, but it asks us to consider various types of human-robot relationships.

AI-driven Mate – Your ‘Best Buddy’?

John Danaher, the robotics philosopher, sets a high standard for what friendship entails. His starting point is Aristotle’s “real” friendship, which saw an ideal friendship founded on mutual goodwill, admiration, and common convictions. Friendship in these terms is about a collaboration of equals.

According to Danaher, developing a robot that could satisfy Aristotle’s criteria would be a major technological accomplishment. Robots that appear to be getting close, such as Hanson Robotics’ Sophia, base their behaviour on a library of pre-prepared answers: instead of a conversational counterpart. Anyone engaged in an extended testing session with Alexa or Siri knows AI has still far to go in this area.

For others, it’s only natural to connect robots with everything else in our environment – people, pets, and belongings. Psychologists have also noted how humans respond naturally and socially towards media artefacts such as computers and televisions. You’d assume that humanoid robots are more personable than your home computer.

Understanding ‘AI Amigo’

Some people worry about having a relationship with robots. ‘Robot ethics’ is far from uniform on the question of whether we should – or can – develop any friendship with robots. Human-robot companionship is an oxymoron, according to a group of UK researchers who established a set of ‘ethical principles of robotics,’ and marketing robots as having social capabilities is unethical and should be handled with caution – if not alarm. For these theorists, investing emotional energy in things that can only mimic emotions would always be less satisfying than forming human-to-human connections.

Owners are already developing connections with basic robots, such as vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers, that are available for less than a dishwasher’s price. People give these machines pet names – something they don’t do with their dishwashers. Some even bring their cleaning robots on vacation with them.

Humans have been living in a post-conscious world for quite some time, and it’s increasingly going from “I would watch the World Cup one day” to “It would be great if I could see the World Cup one day.” With people becoming more aware of this shift toward automation and pre-programmed consumption, we’re beginning to talk about how our relationships with AI-driven robots might impact us.

AI-driven Mates – True Friendship?

Expecting robots to form Aristotelian relationships with us is to set a bar that even human connections do fall short of many times. It has been found that social interactions are characterised by pleasure and happiness but fall short of the Platonic ideal friendship.

Humans have a natural desire for social contact, and, as social animals, we require it. It appears reasonable that connections with robots might help satisfy our innate need for interpersonal connection — such as giving physical comfort, emotional consolation, and pleasant social encounters — which other people currently supply.

However, there are potential drawbacks. In particular, where human-to-human contact is replaced by robot interaction in a healthcare setting, or when people are unable to choose whether they communicate with a person or a machine, there may be some dangers.

These are genuine problems, but they’re only possibilities, not certainties. Robots have been used to help people break the ice in social situations and boost their self-esteem and social skills.

It appears that, as time goes on, many of us will eventually accept Frank’s path: scoffing at first before realising that robots may be surprisingly wonderful companions – but not in a way that Aristotle would have approved.

AI-driven Chatbot Revolution

An AI chatbot may help you make a new friend. An emotional AI chatbot was to be made open source by Wired Online on January 31, after being downloaded 2 million times since its initial availability in November last year. This friend, according to the ad copy, will “always be there for you” and will listen to all that you have to say without interruption, promising to be “a unique and faithful digital companion.” This is the promise made by Luka’s Replika AI software.

This may provide a sense of relief to those who suffer from lack of confidence, social anxiety, and the loss of self-identity. But in a world where everyone can have their ‘perfect’ AI buddy, we should be concerned about children’s social skills.

Takeaway

Most likely, we are on the precipice of a future where we will open our homes to robotic companions. We may be nearing a future when AI-powered robots become standard in our society, no matter what level we decide to allow them into our society.

 

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