Valentine’s Day is here once again. Americans will send 145 million cards, most of which will be received by teachers. Some people will give heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, which first premiered in 1861. And people might send quite a few texted heart emoticons, adding to the 8 billion hearts texted annually.
Saint Valentine is the inspiration for the day, even though he is also the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy. It is believed (according to his hagiography) that Valentine healed the daughter of a Roman judge from her blindness. When he was later condemned to death, he sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.”
So what’s this got to do with a heart-shaped box of chocolates? Our notions of courtly love are inexplicably tied into the written word. The love letters of yesteryear have become condensed texts and terse introductions over dating apps.
Makeups and breakups are happening inside of text bubbles, but at the core, things are very much the same: communication is a big part of relationships…including romantic relationships.
So that said, how will AI, or artificial intelligence, change the way we relate to one another? AI is also about communicating ideas, drawing from a vast reservoir of previous knowledge. AI has been extremely disruptive in some industries…but how disruptive will it be in terms of the way we love? Here are a few pros and cons…
Enhanced communication and understanding: AI could translate languages in real-time, analyze communication patterns to identify and resolve conflicts, and even suggest personalized communication strategies for different relationships. Romantic hopefuls could have an easier time meeting each other overseas with AI-assisted translations. And couples could also have an easier time making up via text or email with AI assistance.
Personalized matchmaking and support: AI-powered dating apps could go beyond simple compatibility algorithms, factoring in personality traits, values, and emotional needs for deeper connections. AI could also offer relationship advice and support, tailored to individual circumstances. As an example, AI could guide dating app users through initial conversations that might be more impactful based on the interests of the other person.
Improved empathy and emotional intelligence: AI therapists and companions could provide non-judgmental listening and support, helping people manage emotions and develop healthier relationships. Couples counseling does not always help every couple, in part because a human therapist might have limitations (such as their own relationships). AI might (strangely) be better poised to isolate and identify problematic patterns contributing to negative dynamics.
Increased accessibility and connection: AI-powered devices could bridge communication gaps for people with disabilities or language barriers, fostering deeper connections. This is true not only of physical disabilities, but cognitive or emotional disabilities as well. AI could assist in pinpointing communication issues and suggesting strategies for more effective conflict resolution, as an example.
Personalized healthcare and well-being: AI could analyze health data and offer personalized recommendations for improving relationships, reducing stress, and enhancing emotional well-being. This area does not seem directly related, but the ability of AI to assist with better sleep, nutrition, and exercise habits can filter down into our relationships.
Overreliance on AI for emotional needs: Dependence on AI companions or therapists could reduce investment in real-world relationships and weaken social skills. For instance, someone who uses AI to make their “first move” on a dating app might be unable to generate or participate in any interesting conversation over dinner, in person.
Algorithmic bias and discrimination: AI algorithms can perpetuate biases present in training data, leading to unfair matchmaking or biased advice. Conversely, software engineers and developers overzealous about counterbalancing such perceived biases may direct dating hopefuls outside the pool of well-suited cultural, ideological, emotional, or even physiological matches.
Erosion of privacy and manipulation: Personal data used to train AI systems raises privacy concerns, and AI used for manipulation could exploit vulnerabilities in relationships. Ardent lovers (a.k.a stalkers) could use AI-based strategies such as information scrubbing and deepfake lures to trace down their quarry, as could infuriated ex-partners.
Dehumanization and emotional detachment: Overreliance on AI could lead to neglecting the complex nuances and emotional depth of human interactions. There are already several apps on the market that allow users to build an AI partner and have relationships that may prove less frustrating than living with another person. What will this do to society at a macrocosmic level?
Job displacement in relationship-related fields: AI could automate tasks currently performed by therapists, matchmakers, or counselors, leading to job displacement. And in a related train of thought, AI could also displace other jobs outside of therapy, creating havoc in homes and stress in our relationships.
Is AI Good or Bad For Relationships?
In some ways, the question is moot because AI is here to stay, whether we like it or not. There are undoubtedly dangers associated with its use, but there are also potential upsides. Just as we will have to see how AI impacts our professional lives, we will need to see how it impacts our personal lives (including relationships) as well.
How about you? Are you in love with your current workplace, or thinking it’s time to find something new? If you’re a job seeker or a manager looking for talent, I’ve got you covered. With nearly 4 decades of “matchmaking” experience in the tech and software industry, I can help you land that job or find that desired talent. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.