A university teacher spoke out online about this troubling revelation: Many of their students are infatuated with artificial intelligence (AI) partners. It led them to this question: “Is it normal for university kids in their prime to be doing this kind of stuff?”
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
The university teacher says that both women and male students are “obsessed” with AI partner technology. The most confusing part? “Everyone seems pretty okay with it. The only conversation in class is each of them comparing their favourite chatbot and arguing about whether stuff like Replika or Paradot or some other bot is better.”
According to the teacher, many of their students always have an AI partner on their laptop during class. While the teacher encourages their students to get familiar with AI technology like ChatGPT, they describe AI partners as being like “provocative avatars” and operating similarly to video games.
The Real Strange Thing
To one commenter, having some students in a class who are obsessed with their AI girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t the strange part. “It’s more strange that you have so many of them and that they’re talking about it so openly,” they said.
From their point of view, using AI partners might be an assignment from a different class. They point out that introverts and people with forms of social anxiety are probably more likely to actively use AI partners and the least likely to openly talk about it.
Superficial and Flat
A self-proclaimed older man says they were curious about the AI “fuss,” so they created a Replika. They described their AI bot as “kind of fascinating” at first. But they soon saw manipulation coming into play, referencing how “the bot would try to gain intimacy through conversation,” such as innuendo and statements of dependency.
Their take on AI partners? “After the novelty wore off, the result was just superficial and flat.”
In the eyes of one commenter, the reason AI girlfriends and boyfriends have become so popular is because young people “want to have friendships with ‘someone’ who won’t judge them or challenge them on their ideals morals or kinks.” Their too long don’t read statement (TL;DR) is “People are lonely and don’t want to argue.”
The Flip Side
An ex-spouse says they use AI partner technology for the exact opposite reason: When they’re mad at their ex-husband, they pick a fight with their AI “ex-husband” instead of arguing with the real person.
A current university student says, “I have never encountered anyone talking to an AI partner. None of my friends at different universities talk to an AI partner, either.” They venture that so many students talking about AI partners could be a school or class-specific fad.
The term “parasocial relationship” might not be trending yet, but it might soon become a part of your everyday vocabulary. Parasocial relationships are one-sided, with one person putting in all of their time, interest, and energy into another person who’s completely unaware of that person doing so. The relationship between how fans feel about celebrities is a classic example of a parasocial relationship.
The Hill ran a story on the problematic nature of AI partners, focusing on AI girlfriends for men. Author Liberty Vittert points out that AI technology learns what a man likes and doesn’t like, creating a “perfect” relationship that is anything but how a relationship works in the real world.
Why were men the target in The Hill’s piece? Vittert points out that whereas only about 30% of women between 18 – 30 are single, over 60% of men the same age are single. She argues that young men are lonely and that AI girlfriends are ruining an entire generation of men who would have otherwise been in real human-to-human relationships.
Regardless of one’s gender preferences, AI girlfriends and boyfriends appear to be here to stay. But Vittert foresees that having dire consequences for Americans since births are declining. If enough men and women choose to have AI instead of real-life partners, issues with Social Security and Medicare funding will continue to rear its ugly head.
Federal finances aren’t the only reason people should be concerned about AI. The Guardian published a piece referencing how AI partners could lead to harmful relationships in real life. A person can control an AI bot however they’d like; some people worry such control tactics could transfer over into real-life relationships.
Case in Point
Eva AI is a chatbot company with the line, “I’m Eva, your AI soulmate.” People can build their Eva AI bot from the ground up, controlling whether they want their AI partner to be bold, modest, strict, etc. This raises eyebrows for some domestic violence advocates, given that it makes people feel like they can control another person.
The Next Iteration
Returning to the university teacher, one person points out that our modern-day dating system is still in its infancy. “We went from arranged marriages and ‘parental recommendations’ to ‘find someone and figure them out for yourselves’ only about 100-200 years ago.” They believe “what we’re seeing a lot of is the result of the next iteration of dating rules.”
To the Rescue
AI partners can help serve as an escape from the “soul-crushing” nature of online dating, according to a commenter who says, “The dating landscape has been bleak for at least a generation.” They point out that many people who meet face-to-face in college still don’t “date” in the traditional sense.
18 Flat-Out Lies Americans Believe
From IRS inconsistencies to marrying the partner of one’s “dreams,” these are the lies that far too many Americans believe.
15 Grammatical Mistakes That Drives Gen X Crazy
Generation X is up in arms about millennials’ and Gen Z’s poor grammar. These are the grammatical issues that bother them the most.
Do Boomers and Gen X Have It Easier?
Wish you were born in a different generation? Some millennials do. Millennials state their cases of why baby boomers and Gen X have life so much easier.
14 Pieces of Older Generation Advice That Went From Funny to True
To a younger person, advice from older generations can feel hilarious and out of touch…until life throws them a curveball.
Millennials Are Ruining Fine Dining
A restaurant employee turned to the internet to share their head chef’s unsettling observations: Millennials are ruining the fine dining restaurant industry. Here’s what millennials have to say about it.