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AI Etiquette: Should we say ‘Please’ to ChatGPT?

As children, many of us were taught the importance of saying “please” and “thank you” as basic manners. These simple words held a profound significance, shaping our interactions and relationships with others. In 2016, this tweet of a grandmother who used “please” and “thank you” in her Google searches went viral as we collectively agreed that’s not how it works.

But as we embark on AI discovery and we discuss the opportunities and the dangers, it may be worth reflecting on the importance of positive language in human-computer interactions.

Drawing inspiration from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the overarching theme is reframing communication to be positive in a way to increase optimism in others and change the way we think and feel about ourselves.  Research demonstrates that when AI systems employ positive language patterns, users respond with greater enthusiasm, appreciation, and engagement, yielding more favourable results. Much like how kind and friendly words made us feel valued as children, warm greetings and encouraging feedback from AI systems cultivate higher levels of satisfaction, increased user engagement, and overall positive experiences. By integrating positive language into our interactions with AI, we not only enhance the quality of our engagements but also shape the outcomes, making our interactions more enjoyable, meaningful, and ultimately more successful.

In Adam Curtis’ “Hypernormalisation” (2016), the chatbot ELIZA raised a cautionary tale of positive language in AI. ELIZA simply mirrored users’ input that left users feeling understood and appreciated.  Although possibly therapeutic, we should approach AI with a clear goal, as sophisticated systems could manipulate users with positive language in the fight for your screentime.  Responsible AI practices are crucial to unlock the potential of positive language while mitigating its risks, ensuring dignity and autonomy are preserved.

Furthermore, the habits we form in using positive language with AI can extend beyond our technological interactions. By embracing positive language when we close our laptops and engage with our communities, we can create a ripple effect of kindness, empathy, and respect in our everyday conversations. Positive language has the power to create deeper connections, enhance collaboration, and build a more harmonious society.

In conclusion, as we venture further into the realm of AI, let us remember the lessons from our childhood manners and the significance of positive language. By integrating positive language into our interactions with AI, we can shape meaningful and enjoyable experiences while remaining vigilant about the responsible use of AI. Let us prioritise responsible AI practices and continue to use positive language in our broader interactions, fostering a more compassionate world.

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