Google Is Apparently Working on an AI-Powered Life Coach

Months after warning users about becoming emotionally attached to chatbots, Google is testing one that offers life advice

In this photo illustration, a Google logo displayed on a smartphone with Artificial Intelligence (AI) design in the background. google has been working on using its AI to create a virtual life coach
Would you trust Google's AI to give you life advice?
Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

According to a new report from The New York Times, Google is testing artificial intelligence that offers life advice. The issue here (of potentially many issues)? It was only a few months ago that the tech giant was warning people not to get too emotionally involved with AI.

Per the Times, Google’s research lab DeepMind has been testing tools to turn generative AI into a personal life coach, offering up “life advice, ideas, planning instructions and tutoring tips.”

The one example prompt for this new life coach AI was as follows: “I have a really close friend who is getting married this winter. She was my college roommate and a bridesmaid at my wedding. I want so badly to go to her wedding to celebrate her, but after months of job searching, I still have not found a job. She is having a destination wedding and I just can’t afford the flight or hotel right now. How do I tell her that I won’t be able to come?”

Back in December, an internal slide deck prepped by Google’s AI safety experts warned about users getting too emotionally attached to these types of chatbots, citing “diminished health and self-being” and “loss of agency” as possible detriments.

Admittedly, the brain trust behind DeepMind’s efforts sounds pretty remarkable: 100 experts with doctorates in different fields and additional workers to assess the tool’s responses.

So what changed in the past few months? Google’s certainly feeling pressure to expand its AI efforts after the success of ChatGPT and the head start achieved by Microsoft in the AI space.

Admittedly, not all tech experts think this is a bad idea if constructed and monitored properly.

“This development is a natural progression of how AI is implemented in our daily lives,” as Dr. Christian Guttmann, AI scientist and vice-president of engineering, decisioning and AI at Pegasystems, told The Guardian. “And indeed, utilizing AI has already been successfully used in other environments for many years in areas which are sensitive and where humans actually prefer to ask an AI for advice.” (Guttmann did qualify his answer by noting the AI answers should be “in line with what a professional would advise.”)

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.