Researchers gather to discuss the very real concerns of human-robot romance
When Spike Jonze's Her came out in 2014, the idea of a human being falling in love with artificial intelligence became a topic of discussion in the media and amongst moviegoers, many of whom pondered the possibility of developing feelings for a companion that wasn't real. It's only been two years, but now researchers and organizations around the world are seriously considering the consequences of humans falling in love with robots.
Every other year, renowned scientists and organizations get together for the International Federation for Information Processing IFIP) conference, where they discuss issues facing us all in regards to information and communications technology. This year, the conference was held between September 7th to the 9th in Manchester, England, with the theme Technology and Intimacy: Choice or Coercion. More specifically, the great minds gathered to share ideas and concerns about the growing realities of virtual and even physical intimacy between human beings and the non-humans that we're creating. Spend enough time with a robot that actually listens to you, maybe laughs at your jokes or even gives your encouragement when you need it most — well, feelings may just develop.
All of this is very relevant for Japan, and this was also discussed at the conference. Japan is currently dealing with an aging population, along with a growing apathy amongst the younger generation towards the institution of marriage and having children. There are even those who are shunning intimate relations with people completely, preferring to stay home and interacting with their virtual friends and lovers. So of course, it's inevitable — the more these machines develop, the more realistic they'll become; and that just means more and more feelings towards the robots developing inside the lonely humans who crave their love and affection. And as long as people continue getting used to spending time with robots, and don't feel the need to get in real relationships or start families, babies won't be born. And that is a problem for any society, especially for a place with a declining population like Japan.
Like Her, this is the kind of stuff movies are truly made of.