Is the cure to loneliness AI-generated? Soul App survey finds out

With Chinese tech companies competing in artificial intelligence (AI) tools, especially the large language models (LLMs) field, how do the young actually feel about AI, in particular AI-generated content (AIGC), the most common form of AI the general public encounters?

On 31 May, Just So Soul, the research arm of the Tencent-backed Soul App released its survey on Chinese Gen Z’s attitude towards AIGC. The survey has 3,457 valid responses, 80% of whom are Gen Z, which is the same proportion as Soul’s monthly active users. Here are the 3 main takeaways from Just So Soul’s latest study:

1. Over 90% of young people have experience with AIGC products, while the post-00s generation is the most knowledgeable about the topic

    Meanwhile, the research found that about 70% of participants have only a “limited understanding” of the concept of AIGC. Among the 90% who have used one of these products, chatbots like ChatGPT from OpenAI are the most popular, with 65.68% having used it.

    2. About 60% of young Soul users have a positive feeling about AIGC, and over 10% are already monetising the technology

    17.93% of young users appreciate AIGC while 45.32% “like” it. 62.78% of those who like the technology cite “greater work efficiency”, 54.09% “more convenience in life” and 53.91% like the “entertaining, interesting experience”. However, there are those who feel negatively about the tech: 42.86% are concerned with it taking jobs, 38.1% dislike the proliferation of low-quality content and 20.3% are concerned with privacy and data security.

    3. Similarly, about 60% of the younger generations have used AI-driven social networking products, with about a third of them willing to make friends with AI

    While 70.35% of the respondents take a neutral position in engaging with AI, 17.99% like communicating with chatbots with only 12% against it. 47.11% of those who talk to AI find bots fun to chat with, 45.66% appreciate the immediate response and 44.53% find they’re open to any topic the user chooses, a reason why 43.73% find that they provide emotional companionship. Over half of the young find AI can or have potential to ease loneliness.

    Soul App released its proprietary LLM SoulX last December, establishing its presence in the AI social realm, after testing its AI-powered chatbot Goudan in September. It also has plans to bring AI into other functions including games on the platform, according to a recent interview. Combining AI with social platforms is a novel idea, especially when social media was designed for humans to interact and network. It is interesting to see AI moving beyond purely functional tools to become an emotional companion for humans.


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