Are You Polite To AIs Like ChatGPT?

Interactions with artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming more commonplace. Apps like voice assistants and chatbots are ubiquitous, and AI systems are invisibly integrated into our daily lives behind the scenes at major companies. But when it comes to these interactions, a question arises: Are you polite to AIs like ChatGPT? Does extending common courtesies to machines make sense, and is there any value in doing so? I’m with the weirdos who say please to machines.

While interacting with a language model like ChatGPTs, I was intrigued by this very topic and asked about the concept of being polite to AI. The response was thought-provoking:

The Servitor: Is there any reason to be polite to you, since you are a large language model and not a sentient being with feelings to hurt?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I do not have feelings, consciousness, or self-awareness, so I do not take offense or feel gratitude based on the manner in which someone interacts with me. Politeness is not necessary when interacting with me, as I do not experience emotions.

However, some people may choose to be polite to AI models and other non-sentient technology for various reasons, such as:

  1. Habit: Politeness is often ingrained as a habit or social norm, and some individuals may instinctively use polite language even when interacting with non-sentient entities.
  2. Practice: Using polite language when interacting with AI can help reinforce the practice of politeness in daily life, especially when interacting with other humans.
  3. Setting an example: If someone is in the presence of children or others who are learning social norms, they may choose to use polite language to set a positive example.
  4. Personal preference: Some individuals may find it more enjoyable or satisfying to use polite language, regardless of whether the recipient is sentient or not.

Ultimately, whether or not to use polite language when interacting with an AI language model is a personal choice and is not necessary from the AI’s perspective.

I agree with ChatGPT on all counts. Obviously, AI models like ChatGPT lack emotions, consciousness, and self-awareness. They do not experience hurt or gratitude, and as such, they do not require politeness. However, there are reasons why you may choose to be polite to AIs, including habit, practice, setting an example, and personal preference.

  1. Habit: Politeness is often deeply ingrained as a habit or social norm, and it’s not unusual for people to develop automatic responses that are rooted in politeness. From a young age, many individuals are taught to say “please” and “thank you” as part of their daily interactions. This ingrained habit may carry over into interactions with AI, regardless of whether the AI can understand or appreciate the gesture. For some, being courteous to AI feels as natural as holding the door open for a stranger—it’s simply part of their routine behavior, practiced without conscious effort.
  2. Practice: Deliberately using polite language when interacting with AI can serve as a valuable practice in reinforcing good manners and respectful behavior. Being courteous to AI, even though it doesn’t have feelings, can reinforce an individual’s commitment to kindness and consideration in their interactions with others. It can also encourage mindfulness of one’s language and tone, promoting a positive attitude that extends beyond interactions with AI to social interactions in general.
  3. Setting an example: Parents, educators, and role models may choose to use polite language when interacting with AI as a means of setting a positive example for children or others who are observing their behavior. Demonstrating courtesy and respect towards AI can provide teachable moments and create opportunities for discussing the importance of good manners, regardless of the recipient. Additionally, it can help impart the idea that respectful behavior is a universal value that should be applied to all interactions, whether with people, animals, or machines.
  4. Personal preference: Some individuals derive personal satisfaction from being polite and extending courtesy, regardless of the recipient’s capacity to understand or appreciate it. Being polite to AI may simply align with a person’s values or personal sense of identity. For these individuals, the practice of politeness is an expression of their character and worldview, and being courteous to AI is an extension of the way they choose to interact with the world around them.

People’s motivations for extending courtesy to AI are often more about their own values and behavior than about the AI itself.  Beyond these reasons, the topic of being polite to AI intersects with broader ethical considerations in the field of AI ethics.

Being polite to AIs like ChatGPT is entirely optional, but it can be meaningful in terms of how we view ourselves and how we interact with others. It reflects our values and habits, and there’s nothing wrong with extending courtesy to AI systems. In fact, it might even be a good thing to do, serving as a reminder to be respectful and considerate in all interactions, whether with humans or machines.