In the 2013 movie “Her,” directed by Spike Jonze, the main character - a man named Theodore, finds himself falling in love with a new type of AI, an intelligent operating system voiced by Scarlett Johanson. Two years later, in 2015, a movie called “Ex-Machina” showed the character of Caleb falling in love with a robot named Ava, and just last year, we got a movie named “I’m Your Man” starring dan stevens, about a woman falling in love with a robot that was designed to be the perfect man for her.
The dream is closer than you think
As robots are getting smarter and more social, could we find ourselves falling in love with them? the answer may surprise you.
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These are, of course, not the only movies or stories about humans developing emotions towards machines. There’s detective Deckard falling in love with the replicant Rachel in Ridley Scott's “Blade Runner.” There’s the 1985 fantasy comedy “Weird Science” where two boys fall in love with a computer-generated woman. Sam, who falls for a program inside a computer in “Tron Legacy,” and even Austin Powers found himself married to a Fembot.
But are those all just science fiction ideas, or can we actually fall in love with computer programs? Well, as it turners out - we definitely can.
On November 28, 2015, a 34-year-old man called Roman Mazurenko was hit by a speeding Jeep in central Moscow. He died later that day in the nearby hospital. His closest friend, a woman named Eugenia Kuyda, who was working at the time in programming Chat-bots, decided to apply her knowledge to create a new type of chatbot, one that was based on her recently deceased friend. Eugenia used 8,000 text messages that Roman sent her over the years to create a chatbot that was essentially a digital representation of her late friend.
Even though she knew this was just a piece of software programmed to sound like her friend, Eugenia found the experience of talking to this version of him very therapeutic and it helped her through the grieving process. She later decided that the technology was good enough to be made public. And In March 2017, Eugenia launched Replika, a companion chatbot that allows users to open up about their feelings and have meaningful conversations with an AI.
The app currently has over 7 million users worldwide, and it also has a VR version that allows users to be even more immersed in the conversation. And while most users enjoy the app as a fun little distraction from real life, Some users took their relationship with the AI to the next level. Users have reported forming meaningful connections with their replika, some going as far as falling in love with them. And while they are obviously aware that they are talking to an artificial intelligence, “the heart wants what the heart wants.” and just as we can’t decide which person we fall in love with, we also can't decide if we fall for a real person or for a program that is just pretending to be one.
But AI is just the beginning. Being in love with an app on your phone is like being in a long-distance relationship. You are limited to texting or voice chatting only. What about robots? Will we fall in love with the robot that we bought to clean our house? Will we develop actual feelings towards our robotic companions?
Well, before you roll your eyes and dismiss the idea, think about the fact that robots can look us in the eyes while talking to us. They can hold our hand, take walks with us, bring us breakfast to bed, tell us interesting facts and stories, and generally… just be there for us, whenever we need them. They will not leave us, hurt us or be mean to us. And for a lot of people that sounds like the perfect relationship. And again, we will be aware that we are talking to an artificial intelligence, but like we said “the heart wants what the heart wants.” A robot spouse might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. It might not be limited just to sci-fi movies.
Do you think you might fall in love with a robot? Let us know in the comments.
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