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Vivian Ta-Johnson discusses chatbot relationship research in WIRED

Vivian Ta outdoor headshot
March 08, 2024
Linda Blaser

Assistant Professor of Psychology Vivian Ta-Johnson was interviewed for an article about AI romantic partners in which she discussed her research on chatbots.

The WIRED story, “‘AI Girlfriends’ Are a Privacy Nightmare,” looked at how romantic chatbots collect “huge amounts of data, provide vague information about how they use it, use weak password protections, and aren’t transparent,” according to new research.

Ta-Johnson said in the story that when some people speak with chatbots they may discuss topics they might not normally address with real people. If the chatbot company alters its system or if the company folds and the chatbot is no longer available, the disruption in the relationship could be “traumatic” for people.

“These companies should take the emotional bonds that users have developed with chatbots seriously and understand that any major changes to the chatbots’ functioning can have major implications on users’ social support and well-being,” Ta-Johnson says in the story.

WIRED is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics.

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