Link: How AI Will Rewire Us

Radical innovations have previously transformed the way humans live together. The advent of cities…meant a less nomadic existence and a higher population density. More recently, the invention of technologies including the printing press, the telephone, and the internet revolutionized how we store and communicate information.

As consequential as these innovations were, however, they did not change the fundamental aspects of human behaviour: a crucial set of capacities we have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, including love, friendship, cooperation, and teaching.

But adding artificial intelligence to our midst could be much more disruptive. Especially as machines are made to look and act like us and to insinuate themselves deeply into our lives, they may change how loving or friendly or kind we are—not just in our direct interactions with the machines in question, but in our interactions with one another.

Christakis, N. (2019). How AI Will Rewire Us. The Atlantic.

The author provides a series of experimental outcomes showing how, depending on the nature of the interacting AI, human beings can be made to respond differently to teammates and collaborators. For example, having a bot make minor errors and then apologise can nudge people towards being more compassionate with each other. This should give us pause as we consider how we want to design the systems that we’ll soon be working with.

For better and for worse, robots will alter humans’ capacity for altruism, love, and friendship.


See also: Comment: In competition, people get discouraged by competent robots.