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  • Writer's pictureDigital Life Initiative

DL Seminar | AI and the Future of Human Communication

Individual reflection by Gilberto E. Ruiz (scroll below).

By Gilberto E. Ruiz

Cornell Tech

In today’s seminar presented by Professor Mor Naaman, the discussion centered on the burgeoning field of Artificial Intelligence-Mediated Communication (AI-MC), a subset of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) where messages are not just transmitted but modified, augmented, or even created by AI to achieve communication goals. Professor Naaman, hailing from Cornell Tech and holding a Ph.D from Stanford University, shared insights on the ethical implications, the interdisciplinary nature of this research, and its potential impacts on future human communication.

The seminar touched upon the evolution of AI in everyday communication, exemplified by tools like Grammarly and Gmail’s smart reply features that suggest responses to emails. Expanding on these examples, Naaman delved into the deeper aspects of trustworthiness in AI-generated content, referencing experiments that gauged perceptions of AI versus human-generated Airbnb profiles. The results, dubbed “The Replicant Effect,” indicated that people tend to distrust profiles they suspect are AI-generated.

Naaman further explored whether people can distinguish between text written by AI and humans, citing experiments with significant findings. Interestingly, participants could not reliably discern AI-generated profiles from human ones, suggesting a seamless integration of AI in crafting convincing narratives. However, when AI content was identifiable, it was often perceived as less trustworthy.

Another critical area covered was the potential for AI to shift language and attitudes in communication. For example, AI-generated suggestions have been shown to lead to more positive language, and when biased AI suggestions were provided, participants’ attitudes aligned more with the bias, indicating a subtle yet profound influence of AI on human expression.

Professor Naaman concluded with reflections on the future of human communication in the age of AI. He highlighted the loss of traditional communication signals and the decreased effort in crafting messages as AI takes over more of these tasks. The seminar not only provided a wealth of knowledge on the technical applications of AI-MC but also sparked a conversation on the broader implications of this technology in our social fabric, emphasizing the need for continued research and ethical considerations.

The seminar reaffirmed that while AI has the potential to enhance our communication capabilities, it also poses significant challenges to authenticity, trust, and the nature of human interaction. As AI becomes more ingrained in our communicative processes, it is imperative to address these challenges head-on, ensuring that technology serves to augment rather than diminish the richness of human connection.


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