AI might as well replace advice columnists

Originally published at: AI might as well replace advice columnists | Boing Boing


You forgot “except Dan Savage” in the headline.




Fire the astrologers, too. Any that don’t see it coming blatantly deserve it.


The irony is that a real advice columnist is going to be the last thing an AI could replace, as it requires an actual understanding of a situation, care judgement and unique advice relevant to that specific situation. An “advice columnist” giving generic responses to common issues doesn’t even need to be replaced by AI - they could be replaced by a FAQ. (Though a search engine - whether you want to call it “AI” or not - could channel people to the most relevant entry in the FAQ, though.)

They don’t even need an AI to replace them - text created by a simple random number generator could do the job.


Advice columnists have brands. The first thing Aunt Sue turns to in the daily newspaper is “Dear Abby”, and that’s part of why she keeps her subscription.


I’m almost certain my “news” feed contains a lot of AI generated junk. The links contain two paragraphs of something kind of related to my own search, contains at least one glaring error, then an endless stream of links.,x d

It will be interesting to see how AI homogenizes data over time. Is it possible it could actually stifle innovation and social discourse?

Ann Landers and Dear Abby were long known as “The Agony Sisters”. And I can think of no better name for a Large Language Model than AgonyChat.

It’s a match made in capitalism, I tell ya.


Indeed, AI could never give us Pegging or Santorum.


Not without a well-lubricated prompt it won’t.


From the OED

I thought that the British term of choice was “agony aunt”, but that’s only been attested to since the 1970s.


Dear Advice columnist, I generally try t be a good and sociable person, but I cannot stop stealing packages of men’s underwear. I insist on paying for the packages that are my size, but I can’t resist the packs of tighty-whiteys that are two sizes too large. The cotton weave is like wearable comfort food for me. Of the ones that I have stolen, I think I have opened only one. The reality of the fabric did not meet my expectations of soothing. I keep the other packs sealed so that I don’t have to deal with disappointing reality. What is wrong with me? How do I get out of this? Yours, The Masked Grundysnatcher


Dear Masked Grundysnatcher,

Thank you for reaching out to me with your concern. It’s important to acknowledge and address any behaviors that may be causing distress in your life or impacting others. Stealing packages, even if you have the intention to pay for some of them, is not an acceptable practice and can lead to serious consequences.

Understanding that you are aware of this behavior and wish to change is the first step towards finding a resolution. It’s crucial to take responsibility for your actions and work towards self-improvement. Here are some steps you can take to address this issue:

  1. Seek professional help: Consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor who can help you explore the underlying reasons for this behavior. There might be deeper emotional or psychological factors at play that need to be understood and addressed.
  2. Develop coping strategies: Find healthier ways to deal with any stress, anxiety, or other emotions that might be triggering this behavior. Engaging in hobbies, exercise, or relaxation techniques can be beneficial in managing these feelings.
  3. Support system: Talk to your close friends or family about what you’re going through. Having a supportive network can make a significant difference in overcoming challenges.
  4. Return stolen items: If possible, return the stolen packages to their rightful owners or the stores they were taken from. Taking this step will not only make amends but also reinforce your commitment to change.
  5. Avoid triggers: Identify situations or places that might lead you to engage in stealing, and try to avoid them. Breaking patterns and habits can be challenging, but it’s essential to distance yourself from tempting situations.
  6. Find alternatives: Instead of stealing, try to redirect your focus on other positive activities that bring you joy and comfort. Whether it’s finding new hobbies, volunteering, or pursuing creative interests, finding healthier outlets can help fill the void that stealing once provided.

Remember, change takes time, and it’s okay to face setbacks along the way. Be patient with yourself, and if you experience difficulty in overcoming this behavior, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance.

It’s commendable that you want to make a positive change in your life. By taking responsibility, seeking help, and making a conscious effort to change, you can break free from this behavior and lead a more fulfilling life.

Wishing you the best on your journey to self-improvement.

Yours sincerely,

Advice Columnist


I agree AI can give great advice! Check out Dear Gabrielle* on Substack - the AI-powered advice column for the AI age. She dispenses wisdom about how AI is already playing a role in our daily lives.

In Gabrielle’s own words, when asked about a mom giving GPT-crafted advice: “Do the quality and impact of the advice change whether it comes from your mom or a computer program?”

*GABRIELLE: Genius AI Bringing Revolutionary Insights and Entertaining Life Lessons for Everyone.


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