[Question] Should we be kind and polite to emerging AIs?

I’ve adopted the habit of engaging with chat-ish AIs /​ digital assistants in a polite, considerate tone (e.g. with “please” and “thank you”) as a general[1] policy.

I am doing this not because I believe such machines have feelings I might hurt or expectations of civility that I ought to respect, but because my interactions with such agents have come to more closely resemble the sorts of interactions I have with actual people and I do not want to erode the habits of politeness and consideration I demonstrate in interactions of that sort, nor do I want to model officious, demanding, dismissive speech (particularly e.g. when speaking aloud).

I can think of a couple of objections to this. One is that it may be socially embarrassing. Thanking an AI out loud for responding to some query seems as eccentric as thanking your microwave for heating your food. It may mark you as a superstitious or sentimental person who talks to ghosts. Another objection is that we perhaps ought to make a stronger distinction between real people and AIs: regularly reminding ourselves that they are our tools and not our peers so that we do not get confused on this point. Being polite to AIs may erode this distinction in a way that might be harmful.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, and any practices you have adopted in this regard.

  1. ^

    That is, whenever there is no specific reason to do otherwise (e.g. to test an AI’s response to impolite input).