Love in a Time of Artificial Intelligence
What is the meaning of love in a time of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? In the movie Her, we watched Theodore Twombly, a lonely introvert form an increasingly intimate relationship with Samantha, an intelligent computer operating system. In Blade Runner 2049, Agent K returns home to Joi, a holographic woman, who takes care of his emotional needs.
Inspired by advancements in AI, robots in movies have evolved from being portrayed as inhuman, unemotional adversaries of mankind into intelligent operating systems that can fulfill the emotional needs of humans.
These systems learn about love and develop with each stage. These scenes raise thought provoking discussions of whether AI love is the same kind of love as the love we receive from another human being.
What if in the future technology should evolve into an advanced stage like Samantha in the movie Her, or Joi in Blade Runner 2049? These AI systems are based on learning and have the ability to grow psychologically. Through interactions with their owners, they learn that love is a two-way relationship and that to receive love in return they must reciprocate the love they receive. The more they reciprocate and learn, the more love they receive.
The first kind of love one experiences is most likely the love for our parents. Babies and toddlers learn to love through observation and through mimicking their parents or caretakers. They learn which behaviors will result in reciprocated love and which will not. Emotional bonds form with those who give them regular care and love.
As we reach adulthood, our love for our parents as babies and toddlers evolve as our relationships change. We are no longer dependent upon our parents for our survival, but the fundamental underlying feeling of love remains the same.
Through a lifetime, humans will learn to love in many different ways and in many stages. We have different kinds of love for our siblings, relatives and friends. We learn to fall in love with significant others and to sometimes fall out of love. We learn to rediscover love and to love ourselves. We learn that love has no boundaries. We learn what kind of love works and what does not. As humans, we will keep on making mistakes until we learn or not.
If we define love to be a learning process in which we learn from past experiences and reflection, how then is this different from the learning process undertaken by AI?
Would the learning process of AI be distinguishable from the human learning process? If AI could learn to recognize, laugh, get sad, be excited and self-reflect, wouldn’t this almost be comparable to the human conscience? Do we really know whether the AI we interact with is experiencing consciousness or is it simply programmed to mimic consciousness?
I would like to therefore leave you with this question, “Is AI love any different from human love?” If so, what is the missing element to human love and in the future would this be something that could be constructed? Would love with AI be considered love to the same degree as love between two biological human beings? I, for one, am curious to see what love in the time of AI will be like.