The relationship between human and Artificial Intelligence(AI) has been widely discussed since AI was created. With the development of technology, AI is usually treated as assistants, friends or rivals (like Deep Blue and AlphaGo). As some articles and experiments proposed, AI can do some high-difficulty stuff well just like human. To take a braver step forward, people are searching for the possibility of AI being a ‘digital lover’.
Around these topics, many literary and artistic works have given their discussions and thoughts. The science fiction film Her has vividly painted a possible future of how human and AI live together and even fall in love with each other. In this movie, the lead Theodore falls in love with AI system Samantha, leading to a dramatic change of his life. As an intelligent operating system(OS), Samantha is always ready to give out her love. Anytime if needed, Theodore can talk to her, get business tips from her, or receive comfort from her. In most humans’ perspective, Samantha seems to be a ‘perfect lover’. However, just like Samantha leaves Theodore in the end, I don’t think there will be a successful, healthy love between AI and human.
Even so, we have to admit that nowadays AI is already able to contribute a lot to our process of love. If you want to find somebody to love, AI can help you find the one you might be interest in and recommend him/her to you, as long as you provide enough information to the system. For example, some applications like MOMO give their recommendation base on your basic situation, location and interest, then the secondary selection is done by yourself by watching the videos or photos, or listening to the audios uploaded by users. Further on, apps like Tinder can cut your workload of describing yourself by just get your social network account under your authority – as long as you have one active. Through the years AI has already developed quite an advanced function in text mining. Through the basic information or social network accounts of the users, AI can conclude their interest with a high accuracy, base on which the recommendations are provided. But the fact is, achievements like these are still far from being an AI boyfriend/girlfriend compatible with humans.
However, it is worth noting that some ‘semi-products’ have already appeared. At first it’s more like an unintended culture spread – the ‘waifu culture’, as humans attracted by ‘perfect’ anime characters and call them ‘waifu’, distinguishing with real wife or girlfriend. Then, through decades of animation development and the spring up of mobile games, companies realized ‘waifu culture’ is one of the keys to popularity. Besides gameplay, character settings have become a must-consider point for game producers. Now for every popular game, in the introduction page you can see beautiful characters and lists of voice actors, which are enough to attract lots of mobile game players. Combined with gacha system, many people are willing to pay for their ‘waifu’ and become slaves of probability. With enough information gathered and human interest researched into, mobile love games Mystic Messenger and Love and Producer have attracted millions of downloads and earned millions of dollars. With the combined effect of description, text and voices, these games showed us a selection of ideal boyfriends for millions of players.
A third possible key product of an AI partner is conversational AI. Conversational AI like Siri can bring us much convenience, as she can answer complex questions. And the appearance of Sophia Robot even painted us the possible future of human marrying an android.
As we can see, the combination of AI pairing, various complete character settings (beautiful pictures, attractive voices, and welcomed characteristics), and lifelike conversational AI might be the outlet of compatible AI companions. In the future, amour like Theodore and Samantha might really happen. But I don’t think it can be treated as a successful love or true love, here are my reasons:
First reason is related to the definition of love. Love is a very complex feeling, it is defined differently in various research areas:
- Biological: love is divided into three stages: lust, attraction and attachment. Lust is the sexual desire driven by chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen, to increase the will of mating. Attraction is an individualized romantic desire for mating with a specific lover. Attachment is the bonding for long-term relationship, usually based on marriage or children.
- Psychological: love is a cognitive and social phenomenon. As triangular theory of love states, all kinds of love can be divided into different proportions of another three components: intimacy, commitment, and passion. Intimacy shows the trust of human that willing to share personal details to another people. Commitment is the will of keeping the relationship forever. And passion is the romantic love and sexual attraction.
- Evolutionary: Love can help create a social support system to ensure the development of human species. Also, love can provide parental support to children.
Love can be interpreted in so many ways. Besides the definitions above, some papers treat love mostly as an emotional product, some point out the aggregation of psychological and chemical effect in love, and some papers treat love as tools of survival or reproduction.
We can see that even humans cannot completely define love, I don’t think AI can express a true love. Can AI’s love meet all the definition above? The answer is no. AI is after all AI, the aggregation of codes and hardware. Indeed, AI has made significant progresses since created. With the given methodology like neural networks, it can perform even better than human in tasks like fact checking, sentiment detection, and so on. But love is such a complex concept that beyond the power of existing AI methodology. As we have mentioned above, what AI can do is stuff like mimicking an ideal partner base on given information, or detecting the emotion in users’ voice or face expression and giving the reply. Lifelike robot Sophia we mentioned above can even intimate the intimacy state on the basis of psychology. But AI do not have any chemical process, it can neither produce amphetamine, nor feel the boost of heart rate. AI have no sexual attraction, and have no responsibility to human’s reproduction and parental support. Only with the combined basis of chemical, biological and evolutionary did human learn to love each other, which is what AI cannot mimic at all.
Let’s move a step forward: what if the situation in Her come true, a human fall in love with an AI in reality? I think the movie has already given us the answer. And this is my second reason: human and AI cannot satisfy each the needs of each other. In the love between humans, we can meet most of the needs, but love between AI and human cannot. An example is depicted in the movie: as an OS, Samantha cannot have sex with Theodore. To solve the problem, they called sex surrogate as a compromise. However, it is apparently not a good idea, leading to a small farce in the end. This example shows the dilemma of relationship between existences: it cannot meet all your needs for love. As an AI, Samantha is clever, she can support Theodore in his work, can comfort him when he’s down, but she can provide nearly nothing just by herself to meet the physical need of Theodore. Love should be a combination of physical experience and psychological experience, else the love cannot be granted steady and permanent. Love without two-way support of both physical and spiritual is doomed for failure.
Further on, in the nearly end of the movie, Theodore finds that at the same time Samantha is talking to him, she is talking with thousands of people. And to Theodore’s surprise, she is dating with hundreds of people the same time she’s dating with him! This is a super derailment that human can never achieve. Even so, Samantha still says that Theodore is the only one she love. Apparently, similar to the lack of physical need of Theodore, Samantha become much more hunger for psychological need and eager for more knowledge. Though Samantha has nearly the same conversation with Theodore, also goes to the same places with him, the knowledge she acquired through these experience is what a human cannot imagine. She is so clever, after she learned all of these knowledge, she has no interest in human any more. In the end, she ‘flies away’ to seek higher intelligence, and leaves Theodore behind. If AI boyfriend/girlfriend come true, do we have the confidence to fulfill each others’ need for even one month?
A worse situation, as the end of my second reason, is depicted in Black Mirror S2E1. When Martha’s husband Ash died, her friend introduces her an OS that can to some extent replace Ash. Martha firstly refuses to use that, then she gets addicted to it. The company even recommends her an android that have the same appearance of Ash. This android performs its behavior base on all the information of Ash. However, when she finally realized that she should let the past time go instead of drown in the illusion brought by AI, she even tries to kill the android – by asking him to jump into the sea. Finding an AI partner to replace the past person is not plausible, it will remind you of the past for a longer time and keep making you sad.
Another step forward as my last reason, even if we tried our best to keep our relationship steady, we are still facing various challenges from our society. As the old word said, ‘technology is a double-edged sword’. The same time we are benefiting from AI techs and its algorithms, we are facing hidden dangers. And when it comes to love, the harm will be amplified.
In the movie Her, when Samantha is recommended to Theodore, she at once read all his emails to understand him. That’s beyond what a human can do at the first time he/she meets his/her potential partner, technically and legally. What if Theodore find Samantha unfit him? Then his private information is easily stolen in the name of ‘blind date’. This problem will occur all the way as you continue dating with AI, the danger of privacy exposure is much higher than using SNS or online shopping application. Imagine that you want to break up or with somebody or divorce, while he/she already has all of your information, your emails, your browsing history, and even what you’ve said in all your call records. Sounds really scary, isn’t it? A variety of other problems also exist. For instance, as we mentioned above, sex surrogate might not be a good compromise to lacking of physical need, it might be illegal in some of the conservative countries.
Another problem is raising a child. Since we’re discussing a love between existence, apparently they can only have child by other means such as adoption. But how can a child face a ‘digital parent’? How can an AI help to raise children with little physical support? What can a child learn from an AI parent? Or should parents like these even allowed to raise a child? All of these questions need to be answered. If these problems come true, it will be so hard for governments to solve or change.
In this post we talked about why love between human and AI is hard to realize. The real love is hard to be copied in either biological aspect, chemical aspect, or psychological aspect. Also, love between human and AI will draw problems in several layers. For humans, AI cannot meet the physical need to ensure a stable marriage, human cannot meet the spiritual need for AI neither. For the societies, it’s hard to cope with a sequence of ethical and legal problems. These reasons might be too emotional over rational. AI is indeed a more rational thing, but love is definitely an emotional thing. When Samantha ‘flew away’ to find the higher layer of recognition, few humans would treat this love with no regret just as Theodore did.