Talk to Your Future Self Via a Chatbot

ai chatbot, mit, delay discounting, future self

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT) have developed a chatbot that allows users to have realistic dialogue with a digitally aged version of themselves to address delay discounting.

AI to Connect with Your Future Version

To do so, research used the power of AI, and more specifically OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 to power the chatbot. During the study, participants were asked to provide some details related to their lives, including their past experiences and future ambitions.

This data was then used for the development of background information, or more technically something called “Synthetic memory” for each participant.

This technology is based on a principle from behavioral science dubbed as “future self-continuity”, which suggest that people who have a strong connection with their present and future selves are more likely to make decisions that are for the good of their financial, health, or educational well-being.

Ivo Vlaev, professor of behavioural science, at the University of Warwick in the UK, stated in an email to Euronews Next that most of the time people find it difficult to envision their future selves in a clear way, and that this could lead to a cognitive bias called ‘temporal discounting’ (also known as delay discounting) where people prefer short terms rewards rather than long term ones.

In this regard, the MIT researchers created the new chatbot, which features a modified profile picture of the current situation of the participants, along with a digitally aged version of themselves at the age of 60, with the aim to reduce the feeling related to delay discounting.

Encouraging Preliminary Results

In a preliminary study, MIT researchers assessed the chatbot by using it with 344 participants aged from 18 to 30 years old. The outcomes of this study showed that participants were feeling less stressed and that the level of anxiety had also decreased.

However, according to Vlaev, despite positive results, further research is required since the main element of success for this chatbot is based on how realistic it is.

On the other hand, researchers emphasized the importance of ethical considerations given that AI-generated content might be harmful.

Final thoughts

The fact that people are able to visualize themselves in the future is something somehow great, as it aims to reduce feelings of anxiety and negative emotions, among others associated with delay discounting. But what if people were not able to accept their futuristic digital version? Wouldn’t this lead to more severe consequences?

Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Tech sections to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.