Australian researchers are urging further investigation into the impact of social chatbots on neurodiverse individuals and those facing challenges in human interaction. The use of AI chatbots, now prevalent on platforms like Snapchat, may exacerbate communication difficulties for people with autism and social anxiety.
Lead researcher Andrew Franze highlights the appeal of chatbots for individuals with social deficiencies, offering a safe space for practicing interactions without fear of negative judgment. However, there is a concern that dependence on chatbots may lead to increased withdrawal from real-world human interactions.
Franze emphasizes the limitations of chatbots, lacking the ability for genuine conversation and emotional displays, which could reinforce dysfunctional habits in neurodiverse individuals. The researchers stress the need for a comprehensive understanding of chatbot impacts, beyond industry-promoted benefits, by collecting feedback from parents, family members, teachers, and therapists.
The essay, titled “Social chatbot user (e.g., ChatGPT) among individuals with social deficits: risks and opportunities,” published in the Journal of Behavioural Addictions, emphasizes the necessity of evidence-based policies to ensure responsible and safe chatbot use.