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How Artificial Intelligence Might Help Us Decode Our World

By Steve Wells, Rohit Talwar, April Koury, Maria Romero, and Alexandra Whittington
How might AI enhance the quality of our friendships and relationships?

Popular films like Her and TV series such as Black Mirror depict a future of intimate relationships in a high-tech world: Man falls in love with operating system, woman loves person she meets in virtual reality. The rise of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) may play a huge role in the future of our interpersonal relationships. One example of what this AI could look like is hardware that we could touch and feel, such as robots; another would be software, or algorithms that take on a persona like Alexa or Siri and can seemingly interact with us.

Beyond overused sci-fi clichés, there’s great potential for AI to increase the authenticity and value of real human relationships. Below are some scenarios of how AI might enhance the quality of friendship, romantic, and professional relationships.

Dating

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but AI can be programmed to translate, helping circumvent missteps in love. Algorithms—as key matchmakers in the future of dating—might provide the support and information people need to extend the connection beyond the first date. For example, an AI personal assistant may give insights on how to approach someone for a second date based on information culled from the first meeting, the internet, and various digital databases. Soon, one’s tweets, Facebook “likes,” and circle of friends could be used to build our dating profile and then compile a fool-proof user guide to dating the other person.

Imagine a Netflix for dates, informing you of the right restaurants to suggest for a certain someone based on their biological profiles, DNA tests, or other obtainable digital data about them. How about narrowing down your choice of bars and cafes based on the probability of meeting singles with a certain Myers-Briggs profile? Whilst on a date, our AI assistant could be interpreting micro-facial expressions and suggesting underlying meanings and desires in what the other person is saying. The technology could also relay real-time video to our inner circle of friends—collating and prioritizing advice from them and dating guides across the web. We need never be lost for words or misinterpret a cue again.

Family

Robots used in caring for the elderly is a no-brainer in places like Japan where the population is aging rapidly and there is a shortage of caregivers. However, it is possible that AI will one day help us communicate and relate better with our elderly friends, relatives, and neighbors. Hearing and speech enhancement is a major area that AI will impact—in fact, teaching robots to listen and respond to human speech is an essential aspect of moving AI into our homes and workplaces. Facial recognition and reading body language are among some of the cutting-edge capabilities of AI that could enhance elder care.

It is possible that future AI programs will help us not just care for the older people in our lives in a superficial way; today we are familiar with the ability to harness technology for medication reminders, virtual doctor visits, and obtaining information used for at-home care. In the near future, AI might keep older people company in the absence of a caring adult, or help caregivers understand illness and injury with more empathy. In a more distant future, the ability to upload memories to the cloud could make the impacts of Alzheimer’s obsolete—AI could help patients recall past events and make sense of the present. Combined with virtual reality and augmented reality, we may reach breakthroughs with AI when it comes to understanding the aging experience and avoiding its pitfalls, such as loneliness, communication problems, and memory loss.

Friendships

In the age of social media, one can have hundreds of online connections with no real friends in sight in the “real world.” Loneliness is an epidemic, and surveys have reported that people believe the number of flesh-and-blood “friends” they can count on in times of need is decreasing compared to past samples. Technology does not have to alienate us from each other, though, hence the growing societal emphasis on the role of technology in enhancing humanity, not diminishing it.

So how could AI help us in our friendships? First of all, guarding special relationships takes tact and care that can be difficult for some people and at certain times during life. Various uses of AI, like voice detection, could help us learn how to treat a friend who calls to casually “say hi,” but whose voice holds fear or anxiety undetectable to the human ear. Friendships might be less private, but more authentic with such a technology. On the other hand, the art of the “little white lie” could be perfected by some device which could let us know when bending the truth might preserve a relationship. Conversely, how many friendships would survive a lie detector test enabled on every conversation?

Career

Could AI help you ask for a raise one day? It’s possible our digital twins, our futuristic personal assistants that mirror our thoughts, actions, and activities, might make appropriate suggestions along our career paths which help us get ahead. Digital twins might look out for us by comparing salary data in our fields, for example, providing both moral and evidential support to the big ask. Furthermore, AI-powered services could suggest, provide, and track professional development training to help instill confidence and overcome weaknesses.

As a job coach, AI might provide valuable assistance to job seekers as well as support people on the job to maintain credentials. Competition in the job market will be fierce once automation takes hold of a range of white-collar jobs. Artificial intelligence working to advance humanity in the workplace would be a win-win for organizations and employees alike. Career support is one application for technology that would enhance the human role in the workplace, while positioning AI in a manner which is not overpowering or threatening.

Ultimately the role of AI in the future of society is still to be deter- mined. Whilst futurists and other early adopters are busy talking  up the benefits of AI, new risks are exposed every day. For example, self-driving cars could reduce the number of lives lost in car accidents, and force repair garages and auto insurance firms to find a new purpose or go out of business. Algorithms that can predict start-up success rates are handy, but could they ultimately quash innovation? It’s fascinating to see the artwork created by a robot, but what about human creativity—and preserving those qualities that make us human? Given the profit motive, AI is already out of the bag. But how we use it and whether it is harnessed to enhance human potential are ultimately choices that we as humans have to make.

 

  • What unexpected consequences could emerge from the application of AI to dating and relationships?
  • How might the nature of family dynamics change with AI?
  • Could AI level the playing field in the workplace if everyone is using it for career advice?

This article is excerpted from Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity. You can order the book here.

 

Image: https://pixabay.com/images/id-4234828/ by geralt

A version of this article was originally published in Guru & Go.

 

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