All too human? Identifying and mitigating ethical risks of Social AI

Abstract

This paper presents an overview of the risks and benefits of Social AI, understood as conversational AI systems that cater to human social needs like romance, companionship, or entertainment. Section 1 of the paper provides a brief history of conversational AI systems and introduces conceptual distinctions to help distinguish varieties of Social AI and pathways to their deployment. Section 2 of the paper adds further context via a brief discussion of anthropomorphism and its relevance to assessment of human-chatbot relationships. Section 3 of the paper provides a survey of potential and in some cases demonstrated harms associated with user interactions with Social AI systems. Finally, Section 4 discusses how the benefits and harms of Social AI can best be addressed, with a primary focus on how frameworks from AI ethics can inform their development.

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Henry Shevlin
Cambridge University