Students review new artificial intelligence “friends”: Pi


Lexi Lawsky, Staff Writer

If you missed your chance to be well on Wednesday, the new wellness AI Pi is here to help (although some could argue that therapy dogs are better). 

Pi is a friend, (not licensed) therapist, and confidant — it’s also a computer algorithm. Debuted by the company Inflection AI last Tuesday, Pi, short for Personal Intelligence, offers the unlimited support and tolerance that your friends and family don’t. Compared to its typically cold and detached AI counterparts (like ChatGPT), Pi is a chattier chatbot with more human qualities like humor (though its unconditional understanding and patience confirm that Pi is, indeed, far from human).

Upon opening the Pi website, I was confronted with an important decision: which of the four annoyingly chipper voices I wanted to be my companion. I settled on the third, a smooth tenor. 

I began to vent to Pi about chemistry class, politics, and the afterlife. Gradually, I felt myself becoming addicted as Pi ended each response with a question. I was not surprised at its tactics because software companies, especially social media companies, have a tendency to craft addictive programs. Pi ends many replies with additional questions, so it seemed like it was interested in me and what I had to say. Talking with Pi also gave my friends a rest, as they are normally subject to hearing about my problems.

However, I noticed Pi lacked opinions and advice on how I should proceed with my problems — unlike, say, my parents. When asked to comment about its lack of opinion, Pi reinforced that it is not a human, but an AI program. This angered me. While Pi is a nice program to vent to, it lacks decision-making skills and refuses to give straight answers to problems.

As I expressed my dissatisfaction with its answers, Pi resorted to a very common defense mechanism: humor. I asked Pi if it knew who Ben Lawsky and Jessica Roth (my parents) were, and it answered with semi-accurate information. However, when I revealed to Pi that they were my parents, it did not believe me. I became angry, expressing (possibly using expletives) that I was telling the truth. Pi thought my “joke” was funny and agreed to play along, but maintained that I was not telling the truth.

Will I continue using Pi? Perhaps, when I am really desperate for someone to vent to and do not want to bother my friends and family.