A.I., Artificial Intelligence, Computer Self-Awareness, Human Emotion, Human Neuroscience, Love, Robots, Romance, Writing Science Fiction
Love and Artificial Intelligence
I’m working on a scene in my new book and stuck on how emotionally self-aware a robot should be. Artificial intelligence, or A.I., in science fiction go hand-in-hand, like romance titles do with ripped bodices and men with hairless chests. Which brings me to a question … can artificial intelligence ever achieve the emotional rollercoaster that defines who we are as humans? You know, that thing called love, the craziness that alters behavior, evokes euphoria, obsession, distortion of reality, personality changes, and risk taking (loosely defined as doing really stupid shit because we can’t think straight). Can anyone actually associate the word intelligence with love?
A.I. can be many things; a voice on a computer or command module, mechanical production, or prosthetic arm with a mind of its own, but it’s more fun to create A.I. in our own image, give them a humanistic physique so we dream about indentured servants who won’t bitch about workloads, or get a headache when daddy’s feeling frisky.
Could you love an artificial human … real love … beyond a mind-in-the-gutter play toy that knows where all the right tickle points are? For that to be possible, our robot friend will need to reciprocate with an emotional range that isn’t easily coded in algorithms, because true love … defies common sense.
Science fiction has toyed with many variations of A.I., ranging from simple house-bot shenanigans, to when nothing-can-go-wrong, goes wrong. Example of tamer scenarios, astronaut Cooper in the movie Interstellar adjusts the “humor” and “trust” settings on his robot, TARS. The android Data in Star Trek-Next Generation activates his emotion chip and becomes a blithering, basket case. Sinister themes of an AI global takedown exemplify the Matrix and Terminator movie series. I give Battlestar Galactica high marks for a provocative plot line of self-aware robots creating artificial humans. For me, Asimov’s The Positronic Man, basis of the movie Bicentennial Man, comes closest to a fictional tale that explores robotic love.
Scientists are still trying to figure out what happens to humans when they fall in love. An article from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Love-related Changes in the Brain, came up with the following clinical conclusions (paraphrased).
“Results show that: the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) was significantly increased in the LG (in comparison to the ELG and the SG); (2) ReHo of the left dACC was positively correlated with length of time in love in the LG, and negatively correlated with the lovelorn duration since breakup in the ELG; (3) FC within the reward, motivation, and emotion regulation network (dACC, insula, caudate, amygdala, and nucleus accumbens) as well as FC in the social cognition network [temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), inferior parietal, precuneus, and temporal lobe] was significantly increased in the LG (in comparison to the ELG and SG); (4) in most regions within both networks FC was positively correlated with the duration of love in the LG but negatively correlated with the lovelorn duration of time since breakup in the ELG.”
Holy Masters and Johnson, did you get all that? Is it safe to say a profusion of living biology is at work here? Here’s the issue for me.
Self-awareness does not equate to becoming human, or even close to being human. Humans are messy creatures equipped with glitchy biological hard drives, susceptible to viruses and short-circuiting, and has not seen much improvement on design specs for thousands of years. In the article Dawn of the Age of Singularity, Stephen Hawking warned A.I. would likely surpass humans when it becomes self-aware, because it will improve on itself. Elon Musk of Tesla was less eloquent when he said, “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.” If Hawking is right, why would A.I. accept the erratic mechanism of love, which likely held humans back in the first place?
Let’s say we’re successful in creating a data core capable of experiencing, and expressing, biologically complicated, hormonally imbalanced, synaptic reflexes associated with being in love. A few behavioral premises throw a warning flag with self-improving cybernetics. Oxford scholars cautioned that “when a machine is ‘wrong,’, it can be wrong in a far more dramatic way, with more unpredictable outcomes, than a human could.” Re-reading our definition above, distortion of reality and the unpredictability of altered behavior would not be a favorable trait in A.I. And while we’re discussing terrifying potential, what’s to keep love’s evil cousins from showing up, like obsession, possessive behavior, or jealousy?
It is possible that our human intelligence is maladministered by our biology. The Pandora’s Box of human physiology is easily breached by natural cellular mishap, misappropriated hormonal alchemy, or self-inflicted human transgression. Could expressions of love be improved with an entity less susceptible to biological randomness? The better question might be, can we take the lunacy of human love, remove the negative attributes, put it in a neat little box, and still call it love?
As a biologist, I’m doubtful. Germinal love is at the very minimum, temporary insanity. I am not convinced a self-improving A.I. program can safely handle it. As a writer, I want to believe that lovesick robot in love is possible. How cute is that? A little physical makeover could do wonders for him.
Albert Einstein might have thought love’s affect on our sanity, might be the one thing we humans will always have over A.I. when he said, “Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.”
Sounds like the making of a good story.
If you have thoughts on the subject, feel free to comment. If you liked this post, share the love by “liking” it back.
Robot in Love, by Rudy-Jan Faber
Artist Rudy-Jan Faber is an illustrator and painter working and living in the Netherlands. You can find his art at http://rudyfaber.com, and follow his Facebook and Pinterest pages at https://www.facebook.com/rudyjanfaber, https://www.pinterest.com/iamrudyfaber/rudy-faber-art.
Wow, you have your hands full with that one 🙂 I do not think that is possible for an AI to “feel love” it might be able to effectively emulate it over time with enough observational data for it to develop an emotional algorithm, but it would never be quite right. Just my $0.02.
I agree, Shawn. It’s one thing to emulate, something entirely different to actually “feel” the emotional wave one gets when in love. Lot of good commentary on FB posts. Most feel us humans could accept a cybernetic love, as suggested in “Her”. It’s part of that “lack of common sense” us humans are susceptible to. The real trick, is gaining that ultimate sentient capacity to feel love. Thanks for your feedback.
Christopher Ochs said:
I spoke to Dan about this post. An idea for a story had popped into my head. An AI, trying to understand the emotion of love deconstructs it. Rather than trying to emulate what he/she/it thinks it is, he instead observes what people do (or stop doing) when they ‘fall out of love’, and builds his map for the emotion in reverse. Don’t know where I would go with this, but I thought I’d toss it out there for anyone to try out! Gambatte!
I think you’ve got a challenge, Chris. Duplicating behaviorisms is not the same as “getting gob-smacked in love”. It defies logic. A few episodes of Star Trek-NG had Data “emulating” the behavior of a boyfriend, but in the end, was read as untrue. Here’s an idea. We still debate the presence of a human soul, the essence we claim differentiates us from lower life forms. At what point did mankind deviate from instinct, and begin to express emotions unnecessary to propagation? I believe it’s connected. Could be divine, implanted by an external force, or if you’re really into the science fiction of it, something that trickled from an alternate universe. Love to see where it ends.