Bringing Humanity Into The Conversation: AI Is Not Going Away, But Are We Going Away With It?

Is it artificial intelligence or artificial intimacy? Even chat GPT agrees that having a human interaction is essential.

“Human interaction is vital in AI and counselling because counselling involves more than just providing information or advice. It also involves building a relationship of trust, empathy, and understanding between the counsellor and the client. While AI can provide information and suggestions based on data and algorithms, it cannot replicate the human ability to empathize, connect, and understand a person’s unique circumstances and experiences. A human counsellor can pick up on subtle cues, provide emotional support, and adjust their approach based on the client’s reactions and needs. Additionally, counselling often involves exploring sensitive and personal topics, and it’s essential for clients to feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Human counsellors can create a non-judgmental and supportive environment that fosters openness and trust. While AI can provide some benefits in counselling, such as offering access to resources and providing quick answers to common questions, it cannot replace the human connection that is essential in the counselling relationship.” Chat GPT

As a psychologist even though I am very interested in technology, I do not ever want to forget what matters when it comes to being with and working with people. It’s all about relationships. Yes, we can create relationships online (I am extremely grateful for my PLN) and on computers, but nothing compares to real humans being together sharing real life conversations where we feel understood and can express ourselves and let others feel heard with empathy. A real hug (with permission) is much better than a virtual hug or a hug by a robot any day in my opinion.

Empathy matters. A study by Konrad , O’Brien and Hsing 2011  reviewed thirty years of research that measured empathy among college students. They found a forty percent decline in empathy . Most of the decline was found in the last decade, so the researchers linked the decline to the presence of mobile communication.

When I sit across from my family members or friends without my phone on, I know it matters. I make a point of focusing on the people I am with and what they have to say. I am sure they know I am present. I used to do this as a School Counsellor before cell phones. I would say to the student, just know if the phone rings I will not answer it as my focus is on you.

According to Turkle, research by Prysblyski and Weinstein 2012 , shows that the presence of a mobile phone even on a table whether on or off does two things:

1. the conversation turns to more trivial matters

2. people in the conversation feel less connected to each other

Even a silenced phone can cause distance between us. It’s important to be present and encourage our youth to do so too.

Lived lives matter. How and what we do matters. I do not believe that machines will never be able to emulate the lifelong experience of a person or learn to be empathetic. In order to really be understood and feel we are heard on a deep level, we need to be human, we need to have lived a life. I do not believe AI will ever be able to replicate those lived experiences.

There is so much to think about and consider:

  • Will robots every really be able to interact the way a human does? 
  • When a robot reads to a child will it be able to show the love and affection and comfort that a human does. Will a robot be able to question and elaborate and giggle along with a child when someone reads to them?
  • Will the world be a better place because of AI?
  • Will education and schools be better because of AI?
  • How can we teach others to use a blended AI approach while highlighting the creative voice of their own?
  • What is it we value? Do values matter when it comes to AI?
  •  “Are we really ready to become a machines companion even if they are willing to become ours?”  Sherry Turkle
  • Are you ready to embrace AI fully with an open heart keeping humanity in mind? 
  • Do you really think the trust, empathy and understanding that comes from connecting with another person on a deep level can be replicated by a machine?
  • What happens when people try to use AI for the betterment of humanity, but it ends up causing harm?
  • What will matter in this moment of time? AI is not going away, but are we going away with it? Or can we find new even more creative ways of using AI in educating and helping others?
  • How can we empower people in the present to use AI for the betterment of humanity?

I am excited about the possibilities of AI in regard to how it can make the world a better place, and the opportunities to connect and help each other. I look forward to and hope AI finds a way to always keep humanity in mind. I hope you will join us as we explore this topic in session 4 in #ETMOOC2

There are so many more important considerations to ponder, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts.


Empathy Machines: Forgetting the Body in Digital Culture.”  In A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Body in Today’s World, Vaia Tsolas and Christine Anzieu-Premmereur (eds.). New York: Routledge, 2017.  Reprinted in Women Reclaiming the City: An International Research Handbook on Urbanism, Architecture and Planning, T. Haas and M. Schwab. Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2022.

The Year of Not Living Thickly.” In Now Comes Good Sailing: Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau, Andrew Blauner (ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021.

One thought on “Bringing Humanity Into The Conversation: AI Is Not Going Away, But Are We Going Away With It?

  1. Gosh, I hope we never lose the idea of humanity being the most important element of this conversation about Artificial Intelligence and its role in society. But I suspect we will need to keep reminding ourselves of this, over and over again, as AI becomes more integrated and more advanced in the many layers of communication. Let’s continue to celebrate the “talk at the dinner table with phones off” but as a teacher, I know these regular moments of personal interactions happen less and less in the household and with the families of my students.

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