Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Dear Mr. Chatbot: You Give Me Chills

To the Editor:

Re “Bing’s Chatbot Drew Me In and Creeped Me Out,” by Kevin Roose (The Shift column, front page, Feb. 17):

After reading Mr. Roose’s article, I’m sure I’m not alone in having concerns about the abilities and uses of A.I.

While we hope to trust companies like Microsoft and Google to put in safeguards, an obvious concern is that some bad actor or even government may use this technology to develop an A.I. system without such safeguards, much as there are now social media sites set up to promote false narratives and conspiracy theories.

Has humankind opened a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences, where we will now need to develop A.I. to counter that possible threat — a new race in this unlimited frontier?

Daniel Samakow
Venice, Calif.

To the Editor:

I recognized a pattern in the dialogue between Kevin Roose and the Bing chatbot that made my blood run cold. The A.I. personality proclaimed love but would not take no for an answer, offering verbal attacks and coercion when Mr. Roose demurred.

Victims of domestic violence or stalking know this pattern well.

If A.I. draws on the total sum of digitized human speech and text, of course abusive impulses will be replicated. Do A.I. engineers think they can prevent human and societal ills in A.I. that we have scant success preventing in people? We should doubt this capacity.

At a minimum, all A.I.-involved text exchanges, articles and other products must be clearly labeled as A.I. products, and we need consumer protection laws requiring this labeling.

Let’s give people a heads-up that the product is not from another living person but tossed up from a giant trawling net in the digital ocean that indiscriminately collects trash alongside signs of life.

Abe Louise Young
Austin, Texas

To the Editor:

Human-to-human relationships are often riddled with toxic comments, passive-aggressive swipes and manipulation. It looks as if the chatbot in Kevin Roose’s revealing article is following in our dysfunctional footsteps.

Matt Tanguay
Ann Arbor, Mich.

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