Will People Be Marrying Machines by 2050?

sexbot

Image: The Daily Sheeple

In the face of AI exerts repeatedly predicting the rise of sex robots, it’s increasingly difficult to insist that such machines strictly belong to a far-off, dystopian future. But some robotics experts predict we’ll soon be doing far more than having sexual intercourse with machines. Instead, we’ll be making love to them—with all the accompanying romantic feelings.

-Olivia Goldhill
“Experts predict human-robot marriage will be legal by 2050”
Quartz

I’ve heard this before. The thing is, I don’t believe it.

Oh sure, I’ve exploited the idea in short stories such as The Perfect Woman, and I’ve written commentaries on this theme like When Your Sex Toy Tattles On You and An AI Sexbot That Can Love You Back, but let’s face it. There’s a long road to travel from sex to love, at least there should be.

The other issue is even if you build an AI sexbot that is really, really good at simulating human behavior, both sexually and romantically, can it really feel “love”. I mean, what is love anyway? Can AI “feel” anything at all?

Emotional states typically require hormonal involvement, which AI doesn’t have. There’s all this biological “mushiness” that is involved in love, hate, envy, pride, and all of the other feelings we humans (and forms of animal life) experience.

How can you build that into a machine, no matter what level of AI is developed?

Maybe you can dupe a person into “loving” a machine, but I doubt the thing will love you back.

Which brings us to marriage. Why does the author, Olivia Goldhill, think people will be marrying machines in less than 35 years? To continue quoting from her article:

“That might seem outrageous because it’s only 35 years away. But 35 years ago people thought homosexual marriage was outrageous,” says Cheok, who also spoke at the conference. “Until the 1970s, some states didn’t allow white and black people to marry each other. Society does progress and change very rapidly.”

The inherit flaw in this line of reasoning is that whether you’re talking about same-sex marriage or interracial marriage, everyone involved in the coupling is a human being. That’s the common denominator.

Marriage, in a legal sense, is the consensual involvement of two human beings to enter into a contractual agreement which establishes the rights and responsibilities of each partner who signs on the dotted line (marriage certificate).

Can an AI give consent? The Supreme Court of the United States would have to grant AI sexbots the legal status of “human”. Do you think that’s likely in the next 35 years?

Pitting same-sex and interracial marriage against human-machine marriage is the proverbial apples to oranges comparison. AI is not alive and so far it isn’t sentient (and truthfully, I doubt it will ever be), and it certainly isn’t human.

Others agree with my opinion but with a caveat:

Oliver Bendel, professor at University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland, with a focus on machine ethics, says he does not believe sex or love robots will have moral standing. “Marriage is a form of contract between human beings to regulate mutual rights and obligations including the care and the welfare of children. Perhaps one day robots can have real duties and rights, though I don’t really believe it,” he says. However, he acknowledges that human-robot marriage could become legal by 2050 simply in response to public pressure.

Creating the legal ability for a person to marry a machine may one day fulfill some sort of societal imperative, but from a strictly legal and ethical viewpoint, it makes zero sense. If this sort of marriage were to be made legal, it would only be to satisfy someone’s “feelings”.

A few decades ago, author Harlan Ellison titled one of his anthologies Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled. I had the privilege of hearing Ellison read one of his short stories with the same title in the late 1970s. I think he said that the tale was inspired by several divorces and implied that what we consider love is only sexual desire.

I don’t share such a cynical point of view, but I do think for that thing we call romantic love to occur, it needs to happen between two people. Maybe someday we’ll build machines that look human, act human, and can have sex more or less like a human, and maybe some people will delude themselves into thinking they love it, but at best, that’s a fetish, not not romance and certainly not marriage.

On the other hand, given how badly some people manage marital relationships and the level of divorce in our society, maybe a sexbot is a reasonable alternative if you can’t or won’t commit to what it takes to make a lifetime of marriage and family. At least the machine doesn’t have feelings or needs that get in the way, and the human “partner” gets whatever he or she wants.

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “Will People Be Marrying Machines by 2050?

  1. I haven’t read your full writing here, yet. But a quick response to the opening: I think the concept is more a commentary (even if unwitting) on the disintegration of human feelings and love, including romance (so called). To a large degree, I believe it has to do with a reverting to less evolved forms of relating (a shunning of relating in what we would think of as human ways rather than ways that are all about numbers and power).

    Like

  2. Maybe you can dupe a person into “loving” a machine, but I doubt the thing will love you back.

    Which brings us to marriage. …
    …..
    The inherit flaw in [the Olivia Goldhill] line of reasoning is that whether you’re talking about same-sex marriage or interracial marriage, everyone involved in the coupling is a human being. …

    I agree. I further will point out that “marriage” as a legal construct is, in part, a way to protect either of or both the parties (as well as children). The state has an interest in trying to protect the well-being of humans.

    The intent of legal recognition is not only to say what is allowed (and not to be directly punished), but to help determine what happens if the agreement to form a household together doesn’t work.

    Like

  3. The “marriage” would be between a manufacturer and a stupid or sociopathic or deficient individual (assuming the human individual is to be involved in what that human imagines not to be polygamy).

    Like

  4. … maybe a sexbot is a reasonable alternative if you can’t or won’t commit to what it takes to make a lifetime of marriage and family. At least the machine doesn’t have feelings or needs that get in the way, and the [deficient] human “partner” gets whatever he or she wants.

    Theoretically. That is, as far as money and power can buy and adjust through litigation.

    Like

  5. Do I think that manufacturers of these appliances will use AI technology to make them more appealing and realistic to their customers? Absolutely. Do I think this will lead to marriages between humans and machines? No.

    I can’t think of anyone who goes around openly announcing that they use such devices, probably because they fear ridicule or because it’s really personal information. I don’t think any of these individuals has a “relationship” with their vibrator or doll, it’s just a tool. Making these tools seem more human and reactive doesn’t make them human. I’ve seen videos of (non-sex toy) Japanese robots designed to look and respond like women, and frankly, they’re pretty creepy. Almost but not quite human objects always are.

    Like

  6. ….some robotics experts predict we’ll soon be doing far more than having sexual intercourse with machines. Instead, we’ll be making love to them—with all the accompanying romantic feelings.

    -Olivia Goldhill
    “Experts predict human-robot marriage will be legal by 2050”
    Quartz

    I’ve heard this before. The thing is, I don’t believe it.

    Oh sure, I’ve exploited the idea in short stories….

    I would like not to believe it too. In fact, I tend not to believe it. But… probably for most of history, love has not been the reason for marriage. We could go to the usual focus on responsibility and duty. And, no doubt, these matter. They are even part of the kind of love you’re talking about; if someone is not dependable or worthy of trust, it will be hard to develop fond feelings and so forth. However, more to the point, women have been property; it didn’t really matter how dependable or consistent the man was, he was the one with power and rights. Our fellow commenter at your sites, Questor, has mentioned this recently as well (in the context of slavery or servants). A man could fool himself, thinking he loved the woman. She might even find it was required of her to pretend to be delighted with him regardless of how callous he was. There’s the threat of violence, emotional abuse, being cast away without support or family, and so on. [And rich guys, especially, even now are infamous for treating women like so much biomass.]

    Like

  7. Well I sure do agree with you on that. Tech developers are often overly exuberant about their abilities, or about what they see in the future. I was commenting, before your post (which I hadn’t seen this morning), on what the “relationship” would be like (not one-on-one at all, not with the robot really). I think it’s better if people don’t fool themselves in the abstract and pine about what would really be happening. A comparison might be when the guy up for the Labor Department says machines aren’t late, etc., as if they don’t break down or misfire. [To say nothing of the lack of concern that people have jobs and be treated as humans in theoretical conservatism.]

    Like

  8. To respond as per your last post (although there might be another by the time I post this) — your 11:17 — I think that’s what I was saying when I posted that there are activities not to be punished that don’t have to be called marriage (and shouldn’t be, I agree with you). Certainly, one can buy a hunk of junk and do stuff with it. [Now, so sorry tech junkies, for saying “junk” about a computer item. I’ve actually had someone who is callous about human interaction get offended when his computer was called the stupid computer in an off-handed way someone might say “the stupid car” or “the stupid refrigerator” because of there being a distraction or problem. This same person has had conversations and behaved in ways indicating sex with AI/robots would be good.] Oh, but that reminds me, there are states where sex toys are illegal, states where the number of toys are limited, and so on. And then, people who tend toward hedonism and impersonal interaction don’t seem to know how to differentiate between same sex marriage having been illegal (and, don’t forget, even the activity between consenting adults having been illegal and punishable) and anything else they want being acceptable and promoted and even called marriage. They are deficient; the question is how many people with influence will be deficient in the future?

    Like

    • I remember when same-sex sex was illegal (or at least I remember it from watching movies such as “Dirty Harry”), and I think those laws were based on moral/Biblical standards when they were first put into place. I didn’t know that some states have laws prohibiting the use of sex toys or the number one can possess, but I can only imagine those laws come from the same source. However, I suspect those laws will flip over in the near future, particularly if someone brings a lawsuit saying that their inalienable right to have “relations” with a machine is being violated.

      Like

  9. And, by the way, all one had to do to make a woman a wife, or property, was grab one.

    That might not be the majority of our historical memory. But it’s within the scope.

    Like

    • I think we’ve come some way toward establishing a woman having human rights in this country, but it begs the question about whether or not AI will become so sophisticated at some point that it might also petition for rights?

      Like

  10. And didn’t fathers basically pay to get rid of their daughters? (In marriage.)
    In other situations, husbands paid (later a token).

    I didn’t write this up with appropriate punctuation earlier…
    They are deficient; the question is: How many people with influence will be deficient in the future?

    Like

  11. We’ve “come a long way.” But that doesn’t mean we get to stay there or progress further. We live in a sinful world. And that sin is not all about what kind of sex one has. It’s about how people are treated.

    I don’t disagree with you that some of those laws were based on Bible passages. But we can try harder to be better people as well as understand the crux of matters.

    Like

  12. I think we know that any activity of AI is programmed and “dry” so to speak. But we have so many people who are heartless but know how to act personable, we might lose track (in terms of a majority or enough of the people or of those in power) and not see the difference. I hope it’s not possible for technology to get so advanced we are fooled into thinking they are people. I know it makes for engrossing movies. But I am offended when people reduce humans (this happens, too, even if it is brushed off as rare or a joke or something) to programming.

    Like

  13. Probably wasn’t clear; whether or not AI might bring lawsuits for rights is a confusion of mind. I don’t mean you are confused to ask the question. I hope we don’t fall for it.

    But we are in relationships with a variety of manufacturers. When our car malfunctions, we want it fixed. We hope it’s under warranty or covered because of negligence. Or we pay.

    Like

  14. We wouldn’t be in a legal or financial argument with the car. Or beg the car to fix its error.
    Sure, some people name their cars and get weird about it. But come on.

    Like

  15. I will mention here the bot (or whatever the right word is) in the recent Star Wars movie. (I thought about getting into the subject in your review comments there.) I can see how you would have thought it was funny (or comic relief)… and how I would have, too, more so in the past. I didn’t laugh much at it (while it was curiosity relief) because I know people who have attitudes like it won’t hurt me (as in me, me, me). It’s so “off” that it seems like it must be humor. But then you find out the self-absorption is really how the person feels. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the contrast of the dialogue with that “guy” (K-2S0) and Cassian’s decisions to be wiser or more nuanced.

    Like

    • Marleen said:

      I hope it’s not possible for technology to get so advanced we are fooled into thinking they are people.

      I kind of doubt it, although if that technology did come to pass, it could also be used to create perfectly realistic prosthetic limbs for amputees, perfect grafts for burn victims, and the like. Of course, those are just physical attributes. I really do doubt that an AI could behave in a totally human manner. That’s not the goal for AI really. AI is being developed to be able to learn to solve certain problems based on its “experience,” not with having its programming adjusted by a person.

      Marleen said:

      Nevertheless, I did enjoy the contrast of the dialogue with that “guy” (K-2S0) and Cassian’s decisions to be wiser or more nuanced.

      The droids in the Star Wars films have been used for comic relief historically, although K-2SO became such a personality, that it was sad with it died, at least to me.

      In the end, it’s fiction and entertainment. Movies like Rogue One don’t carry much more of a message than that.

      Admittedly, I watched the original Star Wars (1977) the day after seeing Rogue One, and then when I heard Carrie Fisher died, I watched Empire, Return, and last night I watched The Force Awakens (2015).

      The principle filming for the next Star Wars film was finished last July, so Carrie Fisher will appear in that film which will be released in late 2017.

      While I didn’t think all that much of Rogue One, the original Star Wars films have passed beyond cinema into cultural icon, and many people, including me, consider them one of the better things about our lives.

      It’s the story of the underdog finally winning against a mammoth enemy, good defeating evil, and courage being rewarded with victory and peace…well, until “The Force Awakens” anyway.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s