Fancy a robot as a spouse? Artificial intelligence, that marvel of software, is expected to revolutionize affairs of the human heart. But would algorithmic love still be love?
Marriages are made in heaven, we were once told. But heaven might be displaced by technology within a few decades. Credit for this disruption would go to artificial intelligence (AI), according to those who have gazed into crystal balls (of silicon, naturally), and spied weddings between humans and robots in the not-so-distant future. Among them is Maciej Musiał, a philosopher from Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz University, who has been studying bonds that we develop with machines. Virtual reality, in his view, is no longer an oxymoron, and he presents the chit-chat we do with online assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, as evidence of not just a great blurring, but also of our capacity for emotional ties with e-individuals. Of course, Spike Jonze’s 2013 film, Her, has already been there and done that—its hero falls for an AI “her”. What’s new are corporeal versions, or “sexbots”, that promise physical intimacy as well. Many believe we’re only a few upgrades away from the whole spousal package—pillow talk, toilet-seat tiffs, and all. Designer babies, engineered with DNA samples, are already being talked about. Will humanoid infants be next? What’s going on? Is human evolution about to get warped by this brave new world?