Abstract

Intelligent agents are currently being deployed in virtual environments to enable interaction with consumers in furtherance of various corporate strategies involving marketing, sales, and customer service. Some online businesses have recently begun to adopt automation technologies that are capable of altering both their own, and consumers', legal rights and obligations. In a rapidly evolving field known as affective computing, the creators of some automation technologies are utilizing various principles of cognitive science and artificial intelligence to generate avatars capable of garnering consumer trust. Unfortunately, this trust has been exploited by some to undertake extensive, clandestine consumer profiling under the guise of friendly conversation. Buddy bots and other such applications have been used by businesses to collect valuable personal information and private communications without lawful consent. This article critically examines such practices and provides basic consumer protection principles, an adherence to which promises to generate a more socially responsible vision of the application of artificial intelligence in automated electronic commerce.

I care so much for you—didn't think that I could,

I can't tell my heart that you're no good.

Bob Dylan, Honest With Me

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