Love bites to Lovebots? Bizarre new theory claims humans will soon be in relationships with robots
Robots have the potential to transform the workplace, but could humans ever fall in love with them?
Philosopher Maciej Musiał of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań thinks they will.
As robots become more sophisticated, scientists and economists have debated the positive and negative impact that artificial intelligence will have on the world as we know it, from replacing people in factory jobs to helping tackle global heath challenges.
However, there is relatively little discussion about how they will interact with humans, including the potential emotional dimension.
Scientists working on developmental robotics are building machines that develop the way humans do, from birth to adulthood.
For some researchers, that includes looking at how robots can learn emotional behaviour from interacting with people.
From Musiał’s perspective, we can expect to see more relationships between robots and humans in the future.
“A new phenomenon that is becoming more frequent is the establishment of emotional relationships with artificial intelligence in various forms,” he says.
The philosopher examines this development, along with the questions it raises, in a book published in English this year entitled “Enchanting Robots. Intimacy, Magic and Technology”.
Among other themes, the book discusses the arguments for and against intimate relationships with robots in the context of our rapidly-changing world.
“It is worth noting that people’s attitude to robots usually combines two mechanisms that, often relate to people’s attitude towards other objects, but rarely occur together: emotional attachment and animation; that is, giving them the characteristics of living beings,” he says.
That might include using gentle words to coax a robot vacuum cleaner to work or giving it a day off “because it needs to rest”, ways in which we would normally interact with humans.
The way things are going with advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, falling in love with a robot could be fairly commonplace in the not-too-distant future, Musiał says.
Another thing he does not rule out is humans wanting to tie the knot with robots.
“It is therefore worth considering whether this is the world we want,” he adds.