Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and coauthor of the book "The Age of AI," has said that he's worried humans will start falling in love with AI.
It's a fair concern, considering that, well, a good number of them already have.
"Imagine a world where you have an AI tutor that increases the educational capability of everyone in every language globally," Schmidt told ABC News in a Sunday interview, adding that this use case, among others, is "remarkable."
"And these technologies, which are generally known as large language models, are clearly going to do this," he continued.
"But, at the same time, they face extraordinary – we face extraordinary new challenges from these things," Schmidt added, before asking rhetorically: "what happens when people fall in love with their AI tutor?"
While some might balk at the notion that some kid out there might actually develop romantic feelings for their AI tutor, it's really not that far-fetched. The internet is often a place where kids and adults alike — especially those who feel disaffected in some way — go to find community, friendship, and sometimes even digital romance.
It's therefore more than conceivable to imagine that human-mimicking chatbots, designed to offer help and care to users, could fill such a void.
And to that end, while LLMs and the bots that they power are hard enough to reign in on their own, humans have often proven to be even less predictable, and as exemplified by the Eliza Effect, tend to anthropomorphize even the most simplistic of chatbots. Plus, the better the bots get at sounding and acting like humans, the more those lines blur — not necessarily because of any machine manipulation, but because of the human desire for connection.
And elsewhere, the marketplace for AI companions is booming. Take the chatbots of "AI girlfriend" service Replika, for instance, which are designed to fill the role of a close companion.
Replika's success — the company claims it has two million users — goes to show that humans are capable of developing strong attachments to conversational bots designed to sound like real people.
And at the end of the day, as Schmidt told ABC, new and powerful technologies almost always come with unintended side effects, with the ex-Googler using the potent example of social media to illustrate how vast, and in many cases dire, those unintended consequences can be.
"What happened with social media is we, including myself, just offered social media because we had a simple model of how humans would use social media," Schmidt told ABC. "But, instead, look at how social media was used to interfere in elections, to cause harm. People have died over social media."
"No one meant that as [the] goal, and yet it happened," the former CEO continued. "How do we prevent that with this [AI] technology?"
READ MORE: 'This Week' Transcript 4-2-23: Joe Tacopina, Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Eric Schmidt [ABC News]
More on AI romance: Man "Sure" His AI Girlfriend Will save Him When the Robots Take Over
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