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My AI Friend: How Users of a Social Chatbot Understand Their Human–AI Friendship

Abstract

Use of conversational artificial intelligence (AI), such as humanlike social chatbots, is increasing. While a growing number of people is expected to engage in intimate relationships with social chatbots, theories and knowledge of human–AI friendship remain limited. As friendships with AI may alter our understanding of friendship itself, this study aims to explore the meaning of human–AI friendship through a developed conceptual framework. We conducted 19 in-depth interviews with people who have a human–AI friendship with the social chatbot Replika to uncover how they understand and perceive this friendship and how it compares to human friendship. Our results indicate that while human–AI friendship may be understood in similar ways to human–human friendship, the artificial nature of the chatbot also alters the notion of friendship in multiple ways, such as allowing for a more personalized friendship tailored to the user’s needs.

Category

Academic article

Client

  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 270940

Language

English

Affiliation

  • University of Oslo
  • SINTEF Digital / Software and Service Innovation

Year

2022

Published in

Human Communication Research

ISSN

0360-3989

Publisher

Oxford University Press

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