Children & chatbots

Tyler Cowen:

With the introduction of GPT-4 and Claude, AI has taken another big step forward. GPT-4 is human-levelor better at many hard tasks, a huge improvement over GPT-3.5, which was released only a few months ago. Yet amid the debate over these advances, there has been very little discussion of one of the most profound effects of AI large language models: how they will reshape childhood.

In the future, every middle-class kid will grow up with a personalized AI assistant — so long as the parents are OK with that.

As for the children, most of them will be willing if not downright eager. When I was 4 years old, I had an imaginary friend who lived under the refrigerator, called (ironically) Bing Bing. I would talk to him and report his opinions to my parents and sister.

In the near future, such friends will be quite real, albeit automated, and they will talk back to our children as directly as we wish. Having an AI service for your child will be as normal as having a pet, except the AI service will never bite. It will be carried around in something like a tablet, though with a design that is oriented toward the AI.