How AI Can Help With the Loneliness Epidemic
AI can’t solve an inherently social problem — but it can contribute positively
Welcome back! As one year ends and another begins, it’s time to restart my writing habit with another essay on the future of AI. Today we’re exploring a timely topic: loneliness.
I’m lucky. For me, Christmas is a time of exciting anticipation. These two weeks, my days have been filled with family plans, meetings with friends, laughs, and good food — my definition of quality time. I have people around that I love and who love me and Christmas is always the perfect excuse to spend more time together.
But, while I was warming up my idea generation machine the other day, a realization struck me: The wholesomeness that permeates through my experience of Christmas isn’t by any means universal. Whereas these are times of happiness and belonging for me, other people feel the exact opposite — the asphyxiating presence that’s always lurking in the back of their minds leaves its burrow to make all the more evident the empty void of a lonely life.
This article is a dedication to those people. Let’s find out how AI may play a positive role to help reduce this silent epidemic of our modern times, and where it’s better that we rely on human-centered approaches.
I’ve followed developments around the idea of an “AI companion” for some time and nothing I’ve seen has brought down my skeptical stance. But, although I won’t say I have changed my mind significantly, I consider the problem serious enough to give AI-based approaches a thoughtful look and analyze not only their deficiencies (which is the easier part) but their virtues — under which circumstances it’s better to have an AI companion than nothing?
This article is a selection from The Algorithmic Bridge, an educational newsletter whose purpose is to bridge the gap between algorithms and people. It will help you understand the impact AI has in your life and develop the tools to better navigate the future.