knowledgeable, insightful and helpful. Furthermore, humans readily formed team relationships with computers and subsequently accepted more influence from them. Collins ( 1997) points out that humans are especially forgiving of imperfect machine socialization when interacting with artificial intelligence and engage in considerable repair and attribution work in order to make sense out of the interaction. The tendency for humans to use social schemas to interact with computers can be (and has been) exploited to increase user acceptance. Computers don't have to be especially "smart" in order to engage their human users, just "clever" in the way they (or their programmers) present themselves.
It has been assumed that developing "friendlier" interfaces for computers would make them easier to use and this would be a "good" thing. Part of the motivation for bringing humans and machines even closer together via affective links is to make machines even better at what they do. However, there can be some potentially significant psychological costs to the human user over time. Early reports of "computer addiction" ( Ingber, 1981; MacHovec, 1984; Turkle, 1984) and the preference for machines over people in adults ( Simons, 1985) and children ( Selnow, 1984; Brod, 1984) have been followed up with surveys and in-depth interviews with "computer-dependent" individuals ( Shotton, 1991) as well as novice internet users ( Kraut, et al, 1998). It appears that for a growing number of people, increased computer use is replacing direct human social contact. Since humans depend upon social feedback for the development and maintenance of the self concept, they are especially vulnerable when isolated from other people. Affiliation and the self-concept are at the root of many social behaviors (e.g., attraction, group membership, conformity) so changes in these key processes may be expected to have ripple effects throughout the social fabric. As we expend effort and resources to make machines smarter, we need to focus at least as much attention on understanding the impact they may be having on their creators.
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Collins, H. H. ( 1997). "Rat-tale: Sociology's contribution to understanding human and machine cognition". In P. Feltovich, K. Ford & R. Hoffman (Eds.): Expertise in context: Human and machine. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Goleman, D. ( 1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantom Books.
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Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukopadhyday, T. & Scherlis, W. ( 1998). "Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well being?"