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Science says your friends won't like you if you use AI for your text messages

The study confirmed it's a bad idea to use AI this way

Two girls drafting text message

It’s reached the point where many people have received an email that reads as though it was written with the help of AI. Heck, we’ve even received cold emails that have a cute little note at the bottom of them letting us know AI helped to draft the message. But, if you can believe it, people are using AI to help draft the text messages they send their friends and family members, too.

But today, we bring important news, so when you end up bickering with a friend over their use of AI, you can now use science to back you up.

The recent study by Bingjie Liu and Jin Kang involved 208 adults who all took part online. They were told to imagine they had been good friends with a real person named Taylor for several years.

Once they’d wrapped their head around the idea of their long-time friend, Taylor — participants were given one of three scenarios.

  1. They were experiencing burnout and needed support.

  2. They were having a conflict with a colleague and needed advice.

  3. Their Birthday was coming up.

Everyone was then asked to write a short message to their long-time friend, Taylor, in a text box, describing their current situation. They were then asked to imagine they received a reply from Taylor. This came with some additional context from the researchers, who told participants one of three things.

  1. Taylor used AI to help revise the message to achieve a proper tone.

  2. Taylor had help from a member of a writing community.

  3. Taylor drafted and revised the message by themselves.

In every case, the content of the message from Taylor was described to participants the same way and was said to be “thoughtful”.

But how did they react? And did the content make a big difference?

People weren’t happy. People who were told AI had a hand in writing the message found it to be less appropriate and more improper than a reply crafted solely by Taylor. They even went as far as to express less satisfaction with their relationship, rating Taylor lower on meeting their needs as a friend.

Interestingly, participants reacted just as negatively when they believed the message had been written with the help of another human.

The researchers said, “What we found is that people don’t think a friend should use any third party — AI or another human — to help maintain their relationship,” adding, “Effort is very important in a relationship. People want to know how much you are willing to invest in your friendship, and if they feel you are taking shortcuts by using AI to help, that’s not good.”

With AI getting more and more popular and easy to use for free, people are becoming more suspicious of its use. More than ever, it’s important to embrace your voice, put in the time, and maybe gloss over the odd typo. Most people who use AI will not tell you, but unless you feed lots of your writing into the model, it’s not going to sound like you.

Here’s a birthday message I asked AI to craft for you:

Happy Birthday to an AI enthusiast and a true tech aficionado! May your special day be filled with endless possibilities and innovations, just like the exciting world of artificial intelligence you're so passionate about.

God, that felt annoying to copy and paste.

Part of the reason Nathan and I started writing about AI was because we care about the human story in all of this. Unlike most AI newsletters, which brag about the fact they’re written exclusively by AI, our newsletter comes with the tagline, “Written by Humans. Promise.

Artificial intelligence ain’t going anywhere, and it’s only going to get better. But don’t let the convenience of AI distract you from your relationships.

Here’s how the researchers concluded their study:

“We found that in relationship maintenance, people distinguish internal and external effort in technology-mediated communication. It is the internal, personal effort that is valued and contributing to relational well-being.”

There’s something ironic about the fact their conclusion reads as if it was written by AI. So, how do you feel? Would you be upset if you knew your friend’s text messages were written with the help of AI?

💬 For the Group Chat!

Copy and paste it — we won’t tell anyone.

So! Science says using AI to help draft your text messages is a bad ideal. Give this article a read: subscribetoai.com/p/using-ai-messages

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