Real feeling and fictional time in human-AI interactions

Topoi (forthcoming)
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As technology improves, artificial systems are increasingly able to behave in human-like ways: holding a conversation; providing information, advice, and support; or taking on the role of therapist, teacher, or counsellor. This enhanced behavioural complexity, we argue, encourages deeper forms of affective engagement on the part of the human user, with the artificial agent helping to stabilise, subdue, prolong, or intensify a person's emotional condition. Here, we defend a fictionalist account of human/AI interaction, according to which these encounters involve an elaborate practise of imaginative pretence: a make-believe in which the artificial agent is attributed a life of its own. We attend, specifically, to the temporal characteristics of these fictions, and to what we imagine artificial agents are doing when we are not looking at them.

Author Profiles

Joel Krueger
University of Exeter
Tom Roberts
University of Exeter


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