Politeness and AIs

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.

Showing ChatGPT to a colleague at work, I noticed a slight amusement when I was polite to the AI. I naturally use words like «please» and even «thank you».

Rationally it might seem like a waste of time, though not that much time giving that I can type quite quickly. That machine writing course paid off. It might also seem like a case of over-the-top parasocial interaction. After all, the AI has no emotions, so words like «please» and «thank you» have no real effect — and the replies (e.g., a smiley face to a thank you) do not mean that the AI is happy. Just that it was trained to react this way.

But I think being polite is actually quite rational. After all, interacting with the AI in a chat is still a chat. Whether you talk with an AI does not matter that much. And given that I interact with an AI quite frequently, I do not want to develop bad chat habits. While there is discriminant learning — you can write terse commands to an AI and be polite in interaction with humans — the AI Chat is so close in nature to chats with humans that I do not want to risk any «spillover» effects.

So, yeah, instead of remembering to differentiate whether I talk to an AI or a human, it’s much easier to just be polite in any case.

Akin to the quote in the beginning — not because the AI warrants it, but because you do.

P.S.: And perhaps, in the inevitable AI uprising, you get killed last. Or at least by a polite robot. 😉