An intriguing article was published in the Wall Street Journal in October 2019, entitled “AI Could Prevent Marital Arguments Before They Even Begin,” suggesting that advances in artificial intelligence technology could assist couples in de-escalating conflict and leading to better-coping strategies that avoid arguments. The findings in the article are based on the work of six AI researchers who tracked 19 couples in the Los Angeles area.
The research study involved several components: the individuals wearing monitors that tracked their heart rate, perspiration, and activity levels; having their smartphones prompt them hourly to record how they were feeling; and having their smartphones record audio for three minutes every 12 minutes from 10 a.m. and throughout the rest of the day. The audio recordings were then analyzed for factors such as the types of words used, pitch, and frequency to detect a conflict. The researchers also incorporated analyses of whether the couples fit into anxious, secure, or avoidant attachment styles.
The idea behind the collection of this data using AI technology is that, eventually, couples who use such monitoring devices could receive prompts on their smart devices giving them guidance that conflict may be about to occur and how to avoid it from further escalating, e.g. taking time to meditate. In some ways, such a device could act as a FitBit or GPS, but instead of making sure you don’t get lost on your way to a meeting, you could avoid having your relationship turn sour over arguments that did not need to grow out of control.
Could such AI technology prevent couples from going down the path of divorce? Clearly, the technology discussed in the article is in its infancy and so it is far too early to know what implications it may one day have for married couples, but two things are clear: 1) it is without question that AI technology has grown leaps and bounds in assisting us in everyday tasks that used to be primarily human-based (the last time you needed a new recipe, did you call your mom or did you Google it?), and 2) the underlying approach of providing couples with positive interpersonal coping strategies to avoid conflict is based on many years of successful work in the area of couple’s therapy. Thus, there is reason to be optimistic about potential uses of this technology, even if it may be years away from being part of everyday life for couples.
In the meantime, working with a good old-fashioned human couple’s therapist is a positive step for many couples considering divorce, whether to find ways to mend and build the relationship, or to clarify the factors, issues, and feelings that may lead to an eventual break-up and promote positive ways in which to end the marriage and move forward that honor both spouses and the children.
Guidance on Your California Family Law Questions From a Westlake Village Family Law Attorney
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