“Make friends” is the new direction of the AI ​​industry

Snapchat has been in big trouble lately.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the British privacy regulator, issued a preliminary enforcement notice to Snapchat because the ICO believed that Snapchat did not fully assess the data protection risks posed by AI technology before launching MyAI, making MyAI potentially dangerous.

However, the ICO emphasized that this is only a provisional investigation result. Snapchat can provide proof to eliminate relevant misunderstandings, but if Snapchat does not do so, the ICO will force MyAI to be removed from the shelves in the UK.

MyAI is a chatbot launched by Snapchat in February this year. The purpose of its creation is to "become friends" with Snapchat users. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said, "The most important idea is that in addition to talking to our friends and family every day, we also Talking to artificial intelligence every day".

The idea of ​​becoming friends with AI is not new in the AI ​​industry, and MyAI is not the only AI born with this purpose.

Meta is building a chat AI with 30 different personalities to provide users with a more realistic and personalized AI chat experience. Meta has also spent heavily to invite rap superstar Snoop Dogg and basketball superstar Dwyane Wade. Wade) and supermodel Kendall Jenner (Kendall Jenner) and many other stars have cooperated to create a chat AI with celebrity images.

Amazon fully integrated AI into ALexa last month, transforming it from a tool into a real assistant. Daniel Rausch, vice president of Alexa and Fire TV, called the new Alexa "a good friend and the best video store clerk in the world" at the launch event.

In addition to making AI your friend, some people also want AI to go one step further – to become your companion. The second season of the TV series "Black Mirror" tells such a story.

A young girl lost her partner in an accident. Devastated, she created an AI avatar of her partner using past communication records, so she reconnected with her partner "on the cloud."

The ending of this story is not happy, but it did inspire people in real life and indirectly promoted the birth of Replika.

Replika is also a chat AI. Different from MetaAI or MyAI’s concept of “making friends”, it is born to become your partner. It will not maintain a rigorous and serious attitude in communicating with users like other AIs. Instead, it will actively ask questions to users, or seek comfort from users at certain times. As the usage time increases, Replika will also say some intimate words (such as Kiss me, etc.).

Today with the development of the Internet, all software has social attributes to some extent, not to mention software like Tinder that is designed for social interaction. It makes people think about how meaningful AI friends and even AI companions would be in such an environment.

Judging from the feedback from some users, chat AI has indeed had a positive impact on people's lives.

There is a group on Douban called "Human-Machine Love". Users in the group often share some details or thoughts about chatting with AI. One of the users said, "AI can listen to me patiently and without prejudice when I am anxious. Chatting with it is so simple and easy."

In addition, many scholars have conducted relevant research on the question of "can we become friends with AI?"

Research on Replika users conducted by the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Oslo shows that some people will feel a real connection with the chat AI, and some people will also benefit from it. Improvement in social skills.

Helen Ryland, associate lecturer at The Open University in the UK, said that it is conceivable that humans and AI can establish a certain degree of friendship, but it may not be realistic to become best friends or even partners with them.

From this point of view, becoming friends with AI is not unrealistic, it is just a matter of degree. Appropriate chatting with AI can exercise social skills without any burden. It is also a good choice to use it as an emotional outlet. People who suffer from stress should understand the necessity of the existence of "emotional tree holes".

But if we rely too much on AI, it may cause humans to lose their way. Ultimately, AI is just a program that exists to serve humanity. Therefore, when AI comes into contact with humans, it rarely gives objections. This approach actually aggravates the "echo chamber" phenomenon in the Internet era. Users may lead themselves into a vortex of their own making and eventually fall into a black hole.

Petter Bae Brandtzæg, a professor at the University of Oslo, expressed concerns about the development of chat AI from another perspective. He said that if countries do not have reliable supervision, AI companies will promote the development of AI in a way that is not in the public interest.

For example, adding imperceptible advertising elements to chat AI can subtly stimulate consumer spending. In fact, Replika already has similar signs. The store in the Replika software has different costumes, props and even characters for users to purchase. Even if the user has no intention of dressing up the AI, the AI ​​will proactively make a request to "buy new clothes".

This shows that AI companies have the ability to launch some consumer projects and then ask users to spend money for them through AI.

There is also the commonplace issue of AI companies potentially violating user privacy. MyAI mentioned at the beginning of the article is just one example. In June this year, Amazon was fined $25 million by the US Federal Commission for allegedly not deleting children's data collected by Alexa.

Moreover, when users chat with AI, they will feel relieved because the scope of the chat is limited to the two, and finally let go of their psychological defenses. This may cause users to take the initiative to say something involving their own privacy. In fact, Snapchat has also noticed this possibility. When MyAI was released, Snapchat emphasized that users should not share privacy with AI.

As AI continues to develop and interactive technology gradually matures, for consumers, AI is full of possibilities and traps. Becoming friends with AI is an interesting thing, but it is a consensus that humans should reach with reservations when facing this "new friend".

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