Taiwanese-American pop star Wang Lee-hom’s 2017 song AI Love (AI Ai in Mandarin, where ai means “love”) received, at best, mixed reviews for it’s focus on the love between a robot and a human. Critique aside, AI Love brings up some interesting questions. We live in a digital age – one that has seen a real rise in artificial intelligence. Will it change our traditional notions of romantic love?
In 2001, animated US comedy Futurama played with the idea of people falling in love with robots, in an episode where Fry fell in love with a Lucy Lui-bot. Go back even further, and the 1973 film Westworld portrayed it to some degree, too. Now, though, digisexuality and robosexuality are no longer found only in sci-fi. Our technology now has created new ways to love. We may, for instance, look at Japan: a country where you can even play games where you (or your character) falls in love with fictional, digital characters. Japanese entrepreneurs have now found another way to profit from people who want to find love.
Enter Gatebox – the country’s answer to the Amazon Echo. It serves the role of a wife waiting at home for her husband, texting him through the day. It can make some people feel loved. As one New York Times article on robolove illustrates, some will go so far as to marry their techno-counterparts. This form of romance would have been unthinkable even just a few years or decades ago.
Having a crush on something like Gatebox is creepy – even dystopian. Now, I admit that Darcy from Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice has long been my own fictional crush – so much so I have found it hard to find someone in real life who can compare. Still, call me a hopeless romantic but as a bare minimum, I believe that romance can only grow with some real-life interaction. This does mean that I see romantic love as fundamentally human. No matter how “perfect” an AI-made lover could be, you can’t teach a robot how to love someone properly.
Technology is awesome. As a law student, I respect AI technology that works to streamline the legal research process. We must keep in mind what makes us human, though, lest we become charmed by digitally perfect lovers. Valentine’s Day is approaching, and I wish you all a truly lovely day – filled with human interactions.