AI-Assisted Communication

Posted by Flux on 

15 January 2024

What’s trending?

Humans are beginning to rely on AI technology to help us communicate with other humans. Your phone’s autocomplete tool which completes words without needing to type them in full, is an early example of this. We now have platforms where AI writes emails for you and there’s a recent innovation where a monocle provides the user with charismatic responses to conversation in real-time. The glasses listen in on your conversation and offer answers projected onto the lens for you to read. This is meant to address social anxiety and while still a prototype, is likely to become more commonplace in the future. Doctors are asking ChatGPT to help them communicate with patients more compassionately while some people are using the technology to figure out what to say in challenging situations, like talking to one’s boss. In one instance, a man asked an AI chatbot for the right words to comfort an insecure girlfriend. This technology is also helpful for dyslexics and people with autism, for example. Ben Whittle, a pool installer and landscaper in rural England, found that his dyslexia was messing up his emails to new clients, so he decided to use a chatbot to assist. The AI reworks the grammar and makes sure that his emails are professional and polite. It’s not just a proofreader, but it also imbues personality into conversations. Autistic people often experience difficulties with social cues, nonliteral language and sensory overload and AI chatbots can help with communicating effectively

Why is it important?

While this technology may be helpful for people who have medical reasons that make conversation challenging, for the vast majority of people, being told by a machine what to say or write is putting us on a slippery slope. Humans are losing valuable social skills through outsourcing conversation which is messing with our capacity to interact. It brings into question the concept of personality and whose thoughts and opinions are being referenced. Is the human now taking on the ‘personality’ of the machine? Love letters, wedding speeches, and arguments for example are now a function of what the internet generates and are inauthentic. Plagiarism is becoming increasingly difficult to detect. Some could argue that this form of ‘copying’ existed before the advent of generative AI and this is just the next iteration of this phenomenon. But it is becoming all too easy to lose one’s voice in the process of borrowing from the internet. 

What can businesses do about it?

Businesses and educational institutions cannot stop the tide of generative AI. Like some organisations have done already, it is important to embrace this technology but on your own terms. Figure out how to include it in such a way that your core work is enhanced and the technology is used as a tool rather than a replacement for original thought. Have a clear generative AI policy and make sure that this is adequately communicated to your staff or students. When businesses use AI systems like ChatGPT to interact with customers or provide information, it’s important to ensure that the AI responses align with the company’s values, policies, and legal requirements. Remember that while AI can automate many tasks, it is not a complete replacement for human judgement, and human oversight is essential.

By Faeeza Khan

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Image credit: Andres Siimon

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