Opinion: “My AI” is a step too far


Steve Johnson on Unsplash

AI is being incorporated in all, even in the Snapchat app.

When I opened my Snapchat and saw a fake user created through ChatGPT, that advertised itself as an “online friend” that could answer any of my questions and be there for me if I ever needed to talk, I was creeped out. 

I’ve never been interested in Artificial Intelligence. Never found the want or need for it— it’s all a bit dystopian for me.

The first thing I did was try to remove my “friend”. But I soon found that the full range of the features of “My AI”, including the removal, were only accessible to Snapchat+ users. 

Learning that only strengthened my fear: I had to pay to get something I never even wanted off my account.

Snapchat has been my favorite social media platform since I got it. It’s been the most fun way to connect with friends and I’ve always appreciated the “What you see is what you get” aspect of the app.

The installment of an AI user was the complete opposite of the reason I had been attracted to the app. I don’t know what I’m getting with having AI so present in Snapchat. But it also opened a door to the whole discussion on AI, all information I wasn’t familiar with. 

I’ve been raised in a family that isn’t particularly “tech-savvy”. We have our phones, we have the laptops we need, we have our TV, and all the kitchen appliances but we’ve never crossed the realm of voice/motion activation, robotic devices, and most definitely not AI. 

To say the least, I knew nothing. 

After I discovered the AI user on my account, I began my research. I looked into the beginnings of AI, its uses, and why so many people were adamant on incorporating it to all aspects of life.

The beginning of AI started around 1950 when one mathematician, Alan Turing, began looking into the possibilities of computer intelligence. It was from 1957 to 1974 where AI really came into the world. In the 1990s AI was incorporated into more of humans’ daily life and now, AI is everywhere. 

Its start began when computer scientists and mathematicians realized that if humans were capable of problem solving and decision making, why couldn’t machines do the same? Now all types of institutions use AI to improve products, services, and content. 

Nothing explained to me why Snapchat had found the necessity to add it to each user’s account. 

I understand the benefits it can bring: efficiency in work, problem solving and decision making, and completing the repetitive tasks that take away time from others. 

But besides being a “friend” to talk to when you are lonely, there aren’t many more advantages to its addition on Snapchat.

It’s all a bit scary. 

AI has the ability to use past events that it knows of to make decisions in the present and future — exactly as a human would do. AI doesn’t need humans to operate, it can do it all on its own. And eventually as AI gets only more intelligent, it could become better than humans at completing tasks and making decisions. 

Have we come to a point where people believe we need an AI user to talk to? Or, is there something more sinister? Are these apps trying to get even more information about us?

As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, it’s important to recognize its advantages but it is equally (or maybe even more) important to see how it takes away from integral aspects of human life.