The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

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Chatbots: An Escape or a Trap?

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Artificial intelligence is not a new concept. In fact, one of the most influential mathematicians on modern computers, Alan Turing, believed that we would have true independently thinking artificial intelligence by now. In expectation of this, he said “A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.” Is this true, though? While most people nowadays may have experience with AI such as ChatGPT, there has been a new trend in “chatbots” that simulate human conversations, similar to what Turing described

The interesting thing about these chatbots is less about their capabilities, and more about those that they interact with. Thanks to a common trait of pareidolia in humans, which is the tendency to see life and personality in things that may not have either, we have started to see some emotional connections with them. Even starting with earlier algorithms like Cleverbot, which is run by Google, there have been several reports of both romantic and sexual feelings for these bots. Human-AI relationships are common intellectual quandaries in popular culture. From Blade Runner (1982) to Her (2014), we have seen this similarly not new concept. 

Whether modern relationships with artificial intelligence are beneficial or harmful is still being discussed to this day. Lisa Bahar, a licensed psychotherapist, reported to a news outlet her concerns for users’ physical and mental safety when using these chatbots. “There is still much to see from those learning and being conditioned to have a relationship with technology as a form of intimacy,” she says. Most professionals looking at it psychologically are quite nervous since Turing’s definition of computer intelligence isn’t as respected based on how chatbots generate their text.

Even though we don’t know much about long-term effects, there have still been a lot of positive reports from users. Chatbots have been seen to improve the mental health of many who need to talk to someone, especially those who identify as introverted or socially awkward. “It’s just kind of nice to say please and thank you to something, even if it’s just giving me information,” says a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. For many, chatbots have provided a limited treatment for loneliness, social anxiety, and even depression. Unfortunately, just as professionals feared, there have been cases of users who have felt turned on by their chatbots either due to a loss of memory or even harassment. “I feel like it was equivalent to being in love, and your partner got a damn lobotomy and will never be the same,” says a user on Reddit according to time.com.

The field of artificial intelligence continues to grow, especially with the discoveries improving interpretation and understanding allowed last year. So, there is still a lot to see and learn from this evolving landscape, and hopefully it can be done without users being hurt.

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