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Showing posts with label Conversational Agent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conversational Agent. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2024

Future You: A Conversation with an AI-Generated Future Self Reduces Anxiety, Negative Emotions, and Increases Future Self-Continuity

Pataranutaporn, P., et al. (2024, May 21).


We introduce "Future You," an interactive, brief, single-session, digital chat intervention designed to improve future self-continuity--the degree of connection an individual feels with a temporally distant future self--a characteristic that is positively related to mental health and wellbeing. Our system allows users to chat with a relatable yet AI-powered virtual version of their future selves that is tuned to their future goals and personal qualities. To make the conversation realistic, the system generates a "synthetic memory"--a unique backstory for each user--that creates a through line between the user's present age (between 18-30) and their life at age 60. The "Future You" character also adopts the persona of an age-progressed image of the user's present self. After a brief interaction with the "Future You" character, users reported decreased anxiety, and increased future self-continuity. This is the first study successfully demonstrating the use of personalized AI-generated characters to improve users' future self-continuity and wellbeing.

Limitations and Ethical Considerations

Our work opens new possibilities for AI-powered, inter-active future self interventions, but there are limitations to address. Future research should: directly compare our FutureYou intervention with other validated interventions; examine the longitudinal effects of using the Future You platform; leverage more sophisticated ML models to potentially increase realism; and consider how interacting with a future self might reconstruct personal decisions as interpersonal ones between present and future selves as a psychological mechanism that explains treatment effects. Potential misuses of AI-generated future selves to be mindful of include: inaccurately depicting the future in a way that harmfully influences present behavior; endorsing negative behaviors; and hyper-personalization that reduces real human relationships and adversely impacts health. These challenges are part of a broader conversation on the ethics of human-AI interaction and AI-generated media happening at both personal and policy levels. Researchers must further investigate and ensure the ethical use of this technology.

Here are some thoughts:

Promise and Potential:

The concept of feeling connected to your future self (future self-continuity) is crucial for mental well-being. "Future You" could be a powerful tool to bridge that gap, leading to better decision-making and reduced anxiety about the unknown. Tailoring the AI-generated future self to the user's goals and personality is key. This personal touch can foster a sense of believability and connection.

Points to Consider:

*AI biases could unintentionally influence the future self's persona. We need to ensure the system promotes a healthy and realistic vision of the future, not a distorted one.

*Not everyone has access to such technology. It's important to consider how to make this tool widely available and address potential biases based on socioeconomic factors.

*While "Future You" can be a valuable tool, it shouldn't replace critical thinking and personal agency. People should still be empowered to make their own choices.