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August 29, 2023

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The balancing act of AI companionship

Imagine you are studying abroad far away from your parents and have a bad cough, feeling alone and isolated. What will you do? Make a phone call to your parents to complain about the stress, or to express the longing for your friends? That doesn’t make sense. Then the AI robots will give a helping hand.

This event will soon come into reality. As a matter a fact, the concept of artificial intelligence giving emotional intimacy is not novel in science fiction. From robots with mechanical exteriors to androids resembling humans to voice-only virtual avatars, the topic of AI companions has been a buzzword nowadays.

Personally, I strongly recommend human beings to have AI companions. There are three reasons.

Firstly, AI companions can be a supplement to human relationships. In today’s fast-paced society, it can be difficult for individuals to spend time with their loved ones. An AI companion, whether in the form of a buddy or a pet, could provide emotional support when human connection is absent. They could listen to our problems, give us advice, and be there when we need someone to chat to without replacing the vital emotional relationships we have with other people.

Secondly, AI pets can be a beneficial alternative for people with allergies or physical constraints who are unable to have traditional pets. These AI companions could deliver the emotional benefits of a typical pet, such as companionship, without the allergens or physical demands.

Thirdly, AI companions may play a crucial part in mental health treatment by providing support and encouragement to those afflicted with loneliness, despair, or anxiety.

Despite the apparent benefits, AI companionship still raises ethical concerns. For example, can AI understand and reproduce human emotions? Is it acceptable to rely on manufactured companionship rather than cultivate human relationships? People are concerned more about the potential risks which AI companion brings.

Besides, it is unlikely that AI companions would ever totally replace the emotional relationships and bonds between humans. The challenge we may face is to strike a balance between utilizing AI companions for their capabilities and make genuine emotional bonds.


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