The project was a test to see how artificial intelligence might change one of the most delicate types of human interaction: the interpersonal apology. The companies who make AI-powered chatbots suggest we should find ways to insert them into our lives when we don’t know what to say or how to say it. That’s all well and good when responding to an unimportant email. But what about tasks that involve a mastery of subtle human interactions? Can you use a tool like ChatGPT to write better apologies? For that matter, should you?

“A couple of things were important,” Cerulo says. Shorter apologies worked better. People liked seeing the victims discussed first, even before the description of the harmful act. Less explanation of the offender’s behaviour was typically more effective – otherwise it came off as justification. And the apologiser needed to end with restitution, promising to do better or explaining a plan to make things right. “It’s pretty simple,” Cerulo says, “but people still have a hard time doing it”.

Sometimes that’s because apologisers are worried about consequences. Admissions of guilt may even come with legal repercussions with a serious offense. But most often, Cerulo says the problem is people don’t want to accept that they’ve made a mistake. Apologising can feel like it lowers your social status. Pride gets in the way.

That may give AI an advantage. Robots don’t have pride to worry about. And if apologies are formulaic on some level, that’s just the kind of thing the statistical machines of AI should be able to handle.

    • girlfreddyOP
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      1 month ago

      I’m Canadian. Setting aside the common trope, far too many of us still have no idea how to truly apologize.

      • Hugh_Jeggs@lemm.ee
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        1 month ago

        Personal opinion - Americans only think Canadians are polite because they’re so fucking rude and selfish themselves

          • girlfreddyOP
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            1 month ago

            I used to cook at an Ontario fly-in fishing camp that catered to Americans. Trust me when I say I agree with your assessment.

            • Hugh_Jeggs@lemm.ee
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              1 month ago

              Used to live in Paris and the waiters all thought Americans were hilarious. They treat waitstaff and cleaners like they’re beneath them and in France that’s a MASSIVE no-no. They’re big on equality. The waiters would deliberately wind them up to make them angry.

              Hence the British/American belief that everyone in France is rude. I mean the Parisians are, but just especially so to certain people

          • HEXN3T@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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            1 month ago

            It’s regional. Also, the “polite” Americans (Texans) are stabbing you behind your back, with a smile on their face.

        • Joelk111@lemmy.world
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          1 month ago

          Can confirm (via a insignifigant sample size anecdote)

          We recently visited Canada, and not a populated part of it. Two lane highways to get everywhere. I think every single person with a Canadian license plate pulled over to let us pass at their earliest convenience when we came up behind them. No long line of cars. They pulled over just to let us pass. It was mind blowing, so fucking pleasant.

          The sample size might be insignifigant, but I think I could count on one hand the amount of times that’s happened while driving on two lane highways in America, something I’ve been doing for years. Everyone thinks they’re driving the correct speed and you can fuck off if you think differently.

      • Flying Squid@lemmy.worldM
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        1 month ago

        I think that Canadian trucker convoy should have put to bed the stereotype of the always-polite, always-apologetic Canadian.

        • otp@sh.itjust.works
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          1 month ago

          Well, they did fly the flag upside down, in black and white, and next to Nazi flags…so I think they don’t want to be Canadian. Maybe part of the reason is that they’re not polite or apologetic.

          Also, they were trying to overthrow the federal government, so I think this argument has a lot of merit.

          To be fair, a lot of them probably didn’t know that, and were there because they were angry about something else and didn’t know who to blame. Plus they had nothing better to do with their time and money but to give it to a national-scale sham.

    • girlfreddyOP
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      1 month ago

      Now that brings back some childhood memories.