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Some people will fall in love (romantically) with AIs, former Google CEO warns

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Eric Schmidt, who formally held the role of Google CEO and is a co-author of the book ‘The Age of AI,’ expresses his concern that humans may begin to form strong emotional connections with AI.

“Imagine a world where you have an AI tutor that increases the educational capability of everyone in every language globally,” Schmidt told ABC News in a Sunday interview, adding that this use case, among others, is “remarkable.”

“And these technologies, which are generally known as large language models, are clearly going to do this,” he continued.

“But, at the same time, they face extraordinary – we face extraordinary new challenges from these things,” Schmidt added, before asking rhetorically: “What happens when people fall in love with their AI tutor?”

The OpenAI technology is now being used to power a newly-unveiled AI tutor for a Silicon Valley private school as reported by The Washington Post last week. This is quite a timely development, highlighting the potential of this cutting-edge technology.

Despite the fact that many would be appalled by the idea of a child forming a romantic attachment to their AI tutor, it’s actually not beyond the realm of possibility.

The Internet has become a popular spot for people from all walks of life, both young and old. Those who feel disconnected from society may find solace in the online community, whether it’s forming friendship bonds or even an online romance.

It’s very likely that chatbots, which are designed to resemble humans and to provide assistance to their users, could fulfill this need.

And to that end, while LLMs and the bots that they power are hard enough to reign in on their own, humans have often proven to be even less predictable, and as exemplified by the  Eliza Effect, tend to anthropomorphize even the most simplistic of chatbots.

As AI bots evolve and become more proficient in behaving like humans, the boundaries between machines and people gradually become blurred – not because of any malicious tricks or means, but due to the strong desire for meaningful connections among us.

AI companions are becoming increasingly popular. An example of this is Replika’s “AI girlfriend” service, which provides chatbots that serve as close companions to many people. This type of technology is experiencing rapid growth in the market.

Replika has made revolutionary progress in the AI field; with two million users, it’s evident that people can form strong bonds with bots created to act like real humans.

With them, users can have meaningful conversations and form deep relationships without ever having to step out of the house! AI friends provide a great alternative to human companionship, giving people a way to be heard and understood in an intimate setting.

As Schmidt stated to ABC, new technology usually carries an array of unintended consequences with it, and sometimes these can be severe. Social networks are one example that demonstrates how huge the impact of these results can be.

“What happened with social media is we, including myself, just offered social media because we had a simple model of how humans would use social media,” Schmidt told ABC. “But, instead, look at how social media was used to interfere in elections, to cause harm. People have died over social media.”

“No one meant that as [the] goal, and yet it happened,” the former CEO continued. “How do we prevent that with this [AI] technology?”

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