“Sleeping with an android is infidelity?”, asks itself and asks us the advertising of the second season of the Westworld series that is broadcast on HBO.
Unheard-of time is coming, while we keep talking about technology for the most part and we leave the ethical, legislative and emotional debate that technological advances are causing.
In this digital age there are already many things that we know, but the more we advance, the more things we do not know. When I wrote “HumanOffOn” (Deusto, 2016) I immersed myself in an unknown world in which technology permeated everything, but did not provide answers to so many new questions. One of the aspects that most calls me to study and reflection is that of the relationships between humans and machines. But not at the level of human beings with smartphones, computers or other devices, but affective relationships that create new paradigms in the conformation of society. With regard to Westworld advertising, while researching to write the book, I asked myself (and glimpsed) possible scenarios in the “intimate” relationships between human beings and machines. I did not imagine, back in 2015, that in 2018, these futuristic scenarios would become real so soon. And I’m not just talking about advertising.
It is true that today many people have an intense relationship with their smartphone, but we are talking about relationships taken to another level. And a new dimension appears in relationships: that of man with the machine. In Japan, there are already robots that take care of hotel receptions, and others are used to care for patients and the elderly. What are the possible links that are being generated with humans? Could a human being fall in love with a robot? And what implications can society have that adults can delegate to machines not only the care of the sick and elderly but also their children? Are we prepared to assume the integration of the machines at all levels of our life?
It is not extravagant to think that robots may become to be loved.
Once again, ethics, legislation and psychology enter the scene. What limits would the manufacturers have so as not to end up manipulating the owners of the robots to update them constantly paying for it each time? And what would happen without an evolution of the operating systems robots end up being really capable of feeling? This would open a completely unexplored territory for ethics, in which for the moment there are many more questions than answers. And not only for ethics. What about human emotions? For the moment emotions are the exclusive territory of the human being. But if the robots end up being really able to feel they could also end up loving.
It is likely that emotions may not be so difficult to replicate over time, even empathy. It would seem that – almost – everything can be programmable, and the robot will be able to imitate human feelings. But feelings are deep questions for humans. We use many ambiguous words for humans: conscience, soul, heart, love. To understand deeply what these words mean, some believe that we need a mirror to reflect humanity. The development of artificial intelligence will lead us in the near future to a scenario in which robots could force us to redefine what can be considered love and what can not.
Although as a civilization we have been able to discover the origins of the universe and what is inside it, we still do not know, with certainty, how we become conscious beings and what role, precisely, consciousness plays in what humans can do .
In the film Her a deep approach to some of the possible relations of the future is achieved: that of the human being and the operating system, the human being with the machine, the human being with the robot. In the case of Her, it is the machine that wants to feel like the human being while the human being is working like a machine. While the human being tries to avoid suffering by paralyzing all kinds of feelings, the machine is anxious to feel. The society that Her draws is a society in which loneliness has taken everything ahead. The irony is that the one who wants to learn to love is the machine, and the human being wants to stop doing it.
“How do you imbue these artificial systems of desires, remorses and desires?” says the cognitive psychologist Axel Cleeremans, “how can you make a robot experience an orgasm?” We return to the basics of life, death and biology”.
The word love has two different conceptions: the love as feeling and the love as desire. And yet both are intrinsic to the human, for the time being. The will that has to do with the affections is what fills us. We are born with the need to love and be loved. We want to be loved and in many different planes. The emotional wanting, the physical, the mental, the anthropological. What would life be without loving?
A French woman has revealed that she is in love with a robot and has decided to marry him. Lilly’s partner is a robot named InMoovator, whom she printed in 3D herself and with whom she has been living for a year. On her Twitter page, where she says “Lilly InMoovator”, she says: “I’m a proud, robust woman, we do not hurt anyone, we’re just happy”. Now, it is reported that Lilly is engaged with the robot and says that they will marry when the human-robot marriage is legalized in France.
The second will is that which is related to desire, the desire to achieve something different from what I have, which implies a void or a disagreement with the present. When I want something I am aware of a void, so before the desire comes there is a void. Understanding the order in which things happen is important. First there is a vacuum, and it is this what generates the desire.
The machine learning the ability to love learns to be human. Learn the human in its two dimensions, the feeling and desire (as infinite ambition). We live in that mental circle of desire. And the machine, when humanized, enters the circle.
The fabulous thing about the word to love is that it contains the two concepts that define to a large extent the human and what differentiates us from the machine.
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro builds androids. Beautiful, realistic and incredibly convincing human replicas. Academically, he is using them to understand the mechanics of person-to-person interaction. But his real quest is to unravel the ineffable nature of the connection itself. Social robots will soon be integrated into our home and work lives, and they will be able to do a better job than humans, in many areas.
It is not unreasonable that in the near future men and women seek to design their better half both inside and out. Your “robot” partner will be as you wish, in personality, in physical, in your way of speaking, of making love?, in everything. Perhaps, and when I say perhaps, I doubt, full happiness exists, fleetingly.
The human being will end up getting tired of what is perfect? Or not? Let’s suppose that love emerges between that man or that woman and the ideal “partner”, designed and created by him or her. And after weeks or months of a “perfect” relationship, the robot poses to his partner, still human, who wants to go further, to form a family Can they have children? Can a couple like that adopt? In the event that legalized marriages between human beings and robots and therefore there is a divorce, to whom it would correspond the custody of the children? Will the legislation be reformed so that the non-human “couple” has the same coverages, responsibilities, benefits and obligations as any human? Will the robots inherit? Imagine that artificial intelligence evolves to such a level that it begins to have consciousness. Suppose then that the robot wants to leave its partner, or does not want to leave, but wants to sleep with another human being, or robot is that infidelity?
You do not need to see Westworld to delve into that future. And while we talk about cars that drive themselves, colonies on the moon, chat bots and robots at work,we are putting aside a debate that directly affects not only society, but civilization.
The danger is not that robots become human beings, but that human beings become robots.