KJ Dhaliwal is an accomplished entrepreneur & venture investor. He’s currently the Chief Strategy Officer of Dating Group & CEO of Dil Mil.
In a world of chatbots and AI interactions, it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference between real people and computer-generated responses. It’s often common to see fast replies as you are talking to automated services or working through support, but you might be surprised to see this more in friend-seeking, relationship-building dating apps, too.
The new connections you form might not be with real people, but with more sophisticated chatbots. These AI friends are created to provide the emotional support or connection people crave. While this might sound odd initially, there is a real market for these digital companions. And the innovation in this space may prove useful in business applications, too.
iFriend is one of the startups that is changing the game when it comes to digital companionship. Their product is different from others on the market because it is intended to be more than just a digital assistant. iFriend not only helps you fill the void of loneliness by lending a comforting ear, but it can also provide support and comfort when needed.
The software is designed to be able to understand your emotions and respond in a supportive way. The app will also learn more about you over time to provide even better support. Other apps in the space include Luka, Inc.’s Replika and ICONIQ’s Kuki.
People Open Up To AI
In a study completed by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, it was found that soldiers shared more personal information with an AI therapist named Ellie than they did with a human therapist. They shared more because they felt less judged by the AI and more understood. The study showed that the AI could accurately read emotions and respond in a way that made the participants feel supported.
This is just one example of how AI changes how we interact with others. As technology gets more sophisticated, we will likely see more ways AI can enhance our social lives. AI is constantly learning, ensuring a bright future for companion software. Whether through chatbots that understand our emotions or apps that help us connect with like-minded people, AI is slowly changing how we interact with the world.
AI Is A Good Listener
While we have seen AI depicted as evil and sociopathic, AI chatbots can be great listeners. They can understand us more profoundly than most people. They can learn about our interests, values and emotions. This deep understanding allows them to provide us with the support we need when feeling down.
Many users will start an AI companion application by giving the software access to their device, which can scan through documents, photos, contacts and more to learn more about a person’s personality rapidly. These cues can help guide conversation, build connections faster and generate conversational tones that a person will feel at ease with. Imagine having a friend you can click with on interests, the way you speak and the supportive way you like to be listened to.
As you talk to an AI companion, it gets to know you better with the help of deep learning. This is what enables an AI to become a better friend. For example, if you are feeling down, the AI might be able to recommend a new hobby that you would enjoy or connect you with other people who have similar interests.
AI Can Form Relationships Faster
You may only need to engage with AI for a few minutes before feeling some connection. AI is designed to learn about you quickly and form relationships quickly. AI personas can form bonds with their users in a short period of time.
For a person who has had difficulty forming new connections, AI can represent a beacon of hope that they can enjoy social interactions again. Whether you are shy or have trouble talking to new people, AI can help you form the relationships you need to be happy.
Social Anxiety And Digital Connection
People are more comfortable with technology than ever before, and because we often spend so much time working collaboratively on a screen through digital messages, the relationship feels natural. It can be argued that human connection is now more digital than ever. According to DataReportal, the average American spends just over seven hours looking at a screen every day.
Dr. Larry D. Rosen, a psychologist and co-author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, explained in a CBC interview that sending text messages to others often causes us anxiety because we have to wait for a response. Rosen, one of the world’s leading authorities on the impact of technology on our brains, said this is attributed to a belief that we are being judged when a response is late or nonexistent.
The point is that human-to-human digital relationships give people social anxiety just like any in-person interaction. But, hypothetically, AI can help the user feel more comfortable by responding faster, more thoughtfully and with empathy. In the end, users will feel less pressure and greater comfort when messaging an AI “personality.”
What About Business Uses?
Commonly referred to as chatbots, AI companions have business applications as well. And two of the biggest benefits that come with them are cost savings and 24/7 availability. Juniper Research estimates that chatbots will bring businesses an annual cost savings of $11 billion by 2023, thanks to reduced time spent on customer service inquiries. The research firm also believes that businesses in the retail, banking and healthcare sectors will save 2.5 billion person-hours thanks to chatbots.
In addition, if your business needs a customer service agent that’s reliable and available at all hours, AI can help. This is good news considering 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January alone.
No matter what your reason for wanting an AI friend or chatbot, there is little doubt they are becoming more and more popular. As we seek new ways to connect and communicate, AI will likely play a more prominent role in our social and business lives for years to come.