Finding love online takes on a whole new meaning


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Is AI companionship the future of not-so-human connection – and even the cure for loneliness?

Love is in AI: Finding love online takes on a whole new meaning

Modern technology permeates almost every facet of our lives, shaping our daily lives in ways both subtle and obvious – and in ways we probably never anticipated. Imagine the horror of finding yourself without your smartphone or internet connection for a few days. How else would you plan your route, decipher star constellations, order weekly groceries or stay in touch with loved ones?

As our lives move more and more into the digital realm, so do our relationships. These days, we probably text our friends and family more than we text them face-to-face. In some ways, technological advances are not only transforming the way we work, learn or travel, but they are also changing us from the inside out: the way we think, behave and feel.

Many of these changes can go unnoticed in the hectic pace of daily life. However, you surely sometimes stop to think about how technology, particularly the advent of the Internet, has affected us socially — and what it really means to be social. Does technology – or rather our love affair with it – help or hinder our sense of connection with others? Why do so many people – despite living in a world where connecting with other people has never been easier – crave a commitment or a trusted confidant?

Indeed, loneliness is now more common than ever. It was even declared “global public health concern”, research showing that it can harm your health as much as smoking. In the United Kingdom, for example, 26 million people say they feel alone. In other words, if you feel alone, you are definitely not alone.

Artificial condition

Chances are you’re already living with some form of conversational artificial intelligence (AI), such as a virtual assistant like Alexa or Siri. But technology is advancing faster than ever, and AI is increasingly ready to help you meet more nuanced and existential needs than checking the weather forecast or turning on the lights for you.

Recently, the the world has been enchanted by ChatGPT and other chatbots of its ilk. As our interactions with technology become increasingly personalized to the point of challenging traditional concepts of camaraderie, one can’t help but wonder whether AI, with its revolutionary potential in many fields, can also provide much-needed support – and even be the cure for loneliness. . Could AI replace real human interactions, rather than “merely” augmenting or complementing human needs and capabilities?


Wider changes in communication and the infiltration of AI into seemingly ever-increasing aspects of our lives have definitely furthered our acceptance and comfort in the company of AI – you’ve got all the messages, jokes and support friendly you need online without needing to leave the house. And there’s no guilt for responding late, no feelings of social awkwardness related to approaching new people “in the real world”, and no worries about being a “bad friend” for not asking questions on their life updates.

What’s not to like? Apparently, many of us are already sold on the idea. A recent survey of the British public found that more than 70% of participants believe that AI chatbots can play a key role in reducing loneliness, with more than 50% of participants saying they believe that the development of this AI technology can significantly improve quality of life. The potential for using AI to help people struggling with loneliness is an extremely exciting prospect.

Your AI lover

However, before jumping on the AI ​​companion bandwagon, we need to better understand the impact on “real-world” social interactions that this new technology creates, the serious ethical issues that may arise, as well as the potential threats to privacy and security and others. the risks that adopting an AI companion may entail.

Let’s briefly look at some of the pros and cons that can come with developing a “relationship” with an AI companion.

The Benefits of AI Companionship

  • 24/7 Availability: Your AI companion has no other commitments (unsurprisingly), so it’s available 24/7, providing you companionship and assistance when needed. For example, this would be perfect if you live alone and want someone to vent about your day in the evening. Or, if your usual routine doesn’t surround you with the stimulating human interaction and support you’d like, a simple “hello” to the cashier may not provide much depth.
  • Interaction without judgment: We all have difficulty sharing parts of our lives with others. While openness can greatly strengthen “real life” relationships, we can express ourselves freely without fear of judgment and criticism with an AI companion. If you’re shy or perhaps have a niche hobby or interest, an AI companion acts as a strong sounding board for sharing your feelings and ideas.
  • Personalized Experiences: AI companions can be personalized to meet individual preferences – you can even have a companion designed to mimic your favorite influencer or celebrity! With this customization, you can design your AI companion to have the same interests as you, and therefore help fuel your passions with additional enthusiasms and ideas – perfect if you need a little more support to complete your first novel or put on those gardening gloves.

The downsides of AI companionship

  • Lack of authentic emotions: Although AI companions can simulate emotions and empathy, they lack the true emotional understanding and depth that human relationships offer. This can result in a superficial connection that might not meet your emotional needs. Your AI companion will never be able to compare or relate your life experiences to its own – it doesn’t have any! So, quite simply, sometimes they don’t understand.
  • Ethical concerns: Of course, wherever personal data is shared, consent, confidentiality and the potential for exploitation must be carefully considered. As AI companionship models continue to develop, vigilance is required to ensure that information shared is secure and private.
  • Risks of dependency: relying on AI for companionship can lead to social isolation and hinder the development of meaningful human relationships. Over time, you may become dependent on your digital confidant and feel less need to socialize “in real life.” When you refuse to have Sunday lunch with your friends for the seventh week in a row, it can put your face-to-face relationships at risk.
  • Limited understanding: AI companions may struggle to understand the complexity of human emotions and context – let’s be honest, many humans struggle to understand this too. This might lead to answers that aren’t really helpful. For example, if you’re looking for someone to complain to about your day and your AI companion responds with more logic than compassion, it might make you feel even worse!

How safe is AI company?

Several risks related to AI companionship come to mind:

Creating a Safe Space for AI Company

AI companionship offers a new and certainly exciting approach to meeting our human need for connection and support. It has the potential to significantly reduce loneliness, and with its ability to learn from its interactions, AI can even specialize in interacting with people with mental health issues or communication difficulties.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and everyone can react differently to the same message, especially when they can’t see their companion’s body language to indicate tone or deeper meaning.

If you delve into the world of AI companionship, be careful about the personal information you share, take sufficient security measures to protect your data, as well as a balanced review of messages and information received, and report anything that appears suspicious. Who knows what the future of AI holds? But as it continues to grow, we must all remain vigilant to safeguard the new safety and well-being concerns that innovation can bring.

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