Mediation, Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a new language generation program available to anyone for free, developed by Open AI.  According to ChatGPT, it is “based on artificial neural networks and uses machine learning algorithms to predict the most likely next word or sequence of words given a certain input. It is trained on a large dataset of human language and can generate responses that are similar in style and content to those produced by a human.”

You can access it yourself at the following site:

I am currently writing a book on mediation with a lengthy section on the use of metaphors, and decided to test it out and see what would happen.  Here are two questions I asked, followed by ChatGPT’s near instantaneous responses:

1.  How can metaphors be used in mediation?

Metaphors can be a powerful tool in mediation because they can help people understand complex or abstract concepts in a more relatable and meaningful way. They can also help people see a situation from a different perspective and facilitate communication between parties.

Here are a few ways that metaphors can be used in mediation:

  1. To help people understand their emotions: By using a metaphor to describe an emotion, a mediator can help people understand and express their feelings in a way that is more relatable and easier to communicate. For example, a mediator might say, “It sounds like you’re feeling like you’re stuck in quicksand and can’t get out.” This helps the person understand that they are feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
  2. To illustrate a point: A metaphor can be used to make a point or illustrate an idea in a way that is easy for people to understand. For example, a mediator might say, “Think of this conflict as a puzzle. We need to work together to figure out how all the pieces fit together in a way that works for everyone.” This helps people understand that they need to work together to find a resolution.
  3. To help people see things from a different perspective: Metaphors can help people see a situation from a different perspective, which can be helpful in resolving conflicts. For example, a mediator might say, “Think of this conflict as a dance. One person leads and the other follows. If one person moves too fast or too slow, it can throw off the balance and cause problems. But if both people are in sync, the dance can be graceful and harmonious.” This helps people understand that both parties have a role to play in the conflict and that they need to work together to find a resolution.
  4. To facilitate communication: Metaphors can be used to facilitate communication between parties by providing a common language or framework for understanding. For example, a mediator might say, “Think of this conflict as a game of chess. Each person has their own strategy and is trying to outmaneuver the other. But if we can find a way to work together and combine our strategies, we can find a resolution that works for everyone.” This helps both parties understand that they are each trying to achieve their own goals, but that they need to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution.

2.  How can ChatGPT help resolve conflicts? 

It’s important to note that ChatGPT is a language generation model and is not capable of resolving conflicts on its own. However, it is possible to use ChatGPT as a tool to facilitate communication and generate ideas for resolving conflicts.

Here are a few ways that ChatGPT could potentially be used to help resolve conflicts:

  1. Generating ideas for resolution: ChatGPT could be used to generate a list of potential solutions or options for resolving a conflict. This could be especially helpful if the parties involved in the conflict are struggling to come up with ideas on their own.
  2. Facilitating communication: ChatGPT could be used to help facilitate communication between parties in a conflict by providing a neutral third party to listen to both sides and generate responses that encourage productive dialogue.
  3. Providing a safe space for expression: ChatGPT could be used to provide a safe space for people to express their thoughts and feelings about a conflict without fear of being judged or criticized. This can help people feel more comfortable sharing their perspective and may facilitate a more productive conversation.

It’s important to note that ChatGPT, like any tool, is only as effective as the person using it. In order to effectively resolve conflicts, it’s important to have a skilled and neutral mediator who can facilitate a productive and respectful conversation.

These are remarkable results and highly suggestive of ways AI might be used in the future, leading to both positive and negative possibilities.  For now, it is well worth exploring – not as a substitute for human thought and inventiveness — but as a way of making them sharper, deeper, and more critical of received wisdom.  We might begin by following ChatCPT’s three suggestions listed above and see where they lead… 

Thinking about this experience reminded me of Shakespeare’s words in “The Tempest”:

“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.”

And now, not just people, but AIs as well.  But while AI programs can compile, copy, and compress, they are as yet unable to invent, so the magic in mediation, for the foreseeable future, will continue to belong to us. 


Kenneth Cloke

Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts internationally and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author… MORE

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