Generative AI Triggers Welfare-Reducing Decisions in Humans

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Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to reshape the way individuals communicate and interact. While this form of AI has the potential to efficiently make numerous human decisions, there is limited understanding of how individuals respond to its use in social interaction. In particular, it remains unclear how individuals engage with algorithms when the interaction entails consequences for other people. Here, we report the results of a large-scale pre-registered online experiment (N = 3,552) indicating diminished fairness, trust, trustworthiness, cooperation, and coordination by human players in economic twoplayer games, when the decision of the interaction partner is taken over by ChatGPT. On the contrary, we observe no adverse welfare effects when individuals are uncertain about whether they are interacting with a human or generative AI. Therefore, the promotion of AI transparency, often suggested as a solution to mitigate the negative impacts of generative AI on society, shows a detrimental effect on welfare in our study. Concurrently, participants frequently delegate decisions to ChatGPT, particularly when the AI’s involvement is undisclosed, and individuals struggle to discern between AI and human decisions.

Ryan Watkins