As we plunge headfirst into the AI era, it’s essential to consider the potentially profound effect this rapidly advancing technology will have on our minds. Will it reduce our trust in one another and cause us to become more reliant on technology? Will it bring about a post-truth world where reality is infinitely inventable? Psychologists are only beginning to grapple with these questions, but it’s clear that AI will bring with it an array of implications for individuals and society.
The spread of disinformation, deepfakes, and hallucinated “facts” will undoubtedly present a challenge to trust and identity. AI will make it easier to create and share false narratives, and it could even be used to imitate our loved ones. Our sense of self might also be threatened by deepfakes, where videos or images of us doing something we never did circulate online. AI is not only likely to make us more reliant on and distracted by technology, but it could also cause people to stop learning things they would have otherwise had to learn.
This is a source of concern for psychologist Larry Rosen, who worries that people will blindly believe AI in the same way they trust their GPS. He fears that an AI-saturated existence could cause more stress, as people are inundated with new technology and can’t focus on one task for long. Michael Graziano, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University, adds that this could lead to a post-truth world, where reality is easily distorted.
On the other hand, AI might also be beneficial for mental health. It could help address the loneliness epidemic, as people might view AI as a friend. Furthermore, AI will replace many jobs that humans currently do, so people will need to become the human face of the work the AI is doing. For instance, medical doctors, politicians, judges, and teachers may become interfaces for algorithms.
AI is set to have a major impact on our lives, and researchers are only just beginning to explore its implications. Michael Graziano calls for more data to be collected on how AI affects people’s psychological state, personalities, and mental health. Similarly, Michal Kosinski suggests we need to become aware of just how quickly AI systems are progressing, as this could lead to a world that looks drastically different in just a year.