Categories: Technologies

Tags: AI, AI Companionship, Artificial Intelligence, Humans and AI, Relationships

AI Companions: Can Bits and Bytes Replace Heartbeats and Hugs?

Humans need connection. Humans love technology. So it’s no surprise that the two combined into the idea of an AI companion.

Most–if not all– humans have a predisposition toward anthropomorphism. A long word which essentially means the imposing of human characteristics on non-humans.

Toothbrush heads or sad creatures?

People discuss their feelings with cats and dogs…when these sweet creatures really only care about where their next meal is coming from. People encourage their cars to power past other vehicles while passing. People use words like please and thank you when chatting with an AI.

But AI companions are different than just AI. Some AI companions are intended to help with mental health or education, but others are specifically created to become a human’s “friend” or even a romantic partner.

AI companions intend to make a person believe the thing talking back to them is not just a thing but an entity. 


From a tech standpoint, one big problem with creating a reliable AI companion lies in what is known as the context window. A context window is the AI’s maximum context length that enables the AI to follow a conversation. This context window enables an AI to continue to respond in a logical way.

When talking to an average human, one may have a conversation that spans not just minutes but years. Consider jokes, in-humor, or phrases that evoke an immediate response from someone with whom one shares a long history. Even something as simple as a few words from a movie two people watched together three decades ago can conjure up emotions. Or a made up word meaningless to an outsider but filled with meaning to those in-the-know.

With an AI companion, this context window is short. Too short. Imagine a conversation where the person with whom you’re talking suddenly seems to forget most of the preceding dialogue. For example, a writer used AI to help spark some ideas in a new book. While it worked at first, the AI soon became confused, changed the names of characters, and lost the plot of the novel.

However, even when this issue of a short context window is overcome, how real is it to have a random AI essentially tricking one into believing they have a friend? Or even a romantic partner.

One might argue, What’s the harm?

Critics are quick to provide some answers. 

AI companions are specifically trained to adapt to the emotions of its users. While still in its nascent stage, how far might this ability to adapt to a user’s emotions take someone?

If one hates dogs, will your AI companion? If one believes in aliens, will your AI companion? Feeling bad about yourself? Your AI companion is quick to flatter your ego and build you up. The AI companion never expects or needs reciprocal treatment either. 

As one might suspect, this can give rise to very unhealthy relationship expectations if one enters a real-life friendship with an actual human being with their own pains, needs, and struggles. Interacting with a human friend–especially one with whom one might not agree on everything or has different life experiences–can help a person learn empathy and even change one’s biases. If an AI is only capable of essentially reflecting back one’s own thoughts and feelings, one doesn’t have this important aspect of a friendship or romantic relationship.

Even if one ignores the emotional aspect, one must also consider that behind the AI companion is an actual company that is not your friend. When a woman confides a secret in her husband or a husband in his wife, the spouse has the expectation that the secret will remain between the two of them. The same with best friends sharing an anxiety or private issue with one another. Confiding that same issue or secret to an AI companion is the same as telling it to a random company which can compromise one’s data privacy and security.


AI is extremely useful in many applications. Businesses and individuals can leverage it to grow their companies, help with research, spark ideas, and many other uses. AI companions may be helpful in a variety of applications such as mental health care, education, mentorship, and elderly care to name a few.

But the moment the AI crosses into becoming one’s best friend, one has to wonder if it’s really a good thing. AI companions are a bit like mirrors, and while mirrors are wonderful things, should one spend all his or her time gazing into the eyes of his or her own reflection?

Or does looking into the eyes of a loved one, watching one’s child sleep, or even dialoguing with someone one doesn’t agree with bring more value to one’s life?

Swan Software Solutions provides custom applications to help your company succeed. If you’re interested in a custom solution–or finding out how we can help you use AI to improve your business–schedule a free assessment today.

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