Loneliness – is AI a Cure?

Angie SzumlinskiNews

Gallup estimates that 44 million people are experiencing “significant loneliness” and that three in four Americans say they experience loneliness. These numbers spiked during the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be a public health crisis. It is interesting that as we continue this journey post-pandemic, we are also embracing AI-based services. There is some skepticism on whether AI is a good thing or if, in the long-haul, it can further isolate people from relationships and conversations? 

On the positive side, AI can provide virtual therapy for people suffering with conditions such as PTSD, veterans who are afraid to share their feelings, and people struggling to access in-person therapy in their native language. Then there are the AI “pets,” which are already a huge growth industry for seniors. These “pets” can be programmed to have personalities and physical features that are lifelike. What a great idea for seniors who had a pet their entire lives but are not able to care for one now!  

All of that said, I watched with interest as the head of the artificial intelligence company that makes ChatGPT, Sam Altman, told Congress that government intervention “will be critical to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful” AI systems. Altman also said that a new regulatory agency should impose safeguards that would block AI models that could “self-replicate and self-exfiltrate into the wild,” hinting at futuristic concerns about advanced AI systems that could manipulate humans. Being that I am not very “techy,” these hearings are interesting but well above my pay grade. I think I will continue to promote the use of AI pets and leave it at that! Stay well and stay informed!