Can you fall in love with a robot?
It’s a question that has been widely explored by sci-fi novelists and filmmakers for decades.
Her and Ex Machina – both Oscar nominated – revolve around protagonists developing deep, romantic feelings for some form of artificial intelligence.
Our fascination with this concept isn’t difficult to unpick: a romantic relationship with a machine takes away all of the messiness and unpleasantness of human emotion and leaves you with something that is much simpler and easier to comprehend, if relatively sterile.
It feels like a fantasy because, for the moment at least, it remains one.
But just how likely is it that we will willingly abandon our innate need for human touch and interaction and what will the implications be for humanity if we do?
Relationship coach and neuroscientist Bobbi Banks thinks robotic partners could definitely be in the cards in the not too distant future.
‘Forming romantic and sexual relationships with robots will be widespread by 2050,’ Bobbi tells Metro.co.uk.
‘The way we experience love and connection today is changing.
‘Technology is so intertwined in our day-to-day lives that I have already seen a significant rise in the number of long-distance and online relationships.
‘People report feeling close and emotionally connected to their romantic partner but also say that not being able to see each other creates feelings of jealousy and uncertainty of the stability of the relationship.’
Bobbi thinks that that jealousy could be removed by having a robotic partner.
‘It would provide the affection, company and love without the fear of rejection, being cheated on, or the heartbreak after a breakup,’ she says.
‘It would give people full control over their love life and it would allow them to create the “perfect partner” but it would do more bad than good.
‘Having your needs met on demand and always getting your way could lead to higher levels of life dissatisfaction and depression due to not being able to cope with life’s obstacles as well as you would have been able to initially.
‘What makes a relationship worth having is the human connection and learning to love each other despite our faults. We need to embrace the struggles in life and learn from the pain as that’s what makes us stronger and teaches us to be better.’
Relationships expert Sarah Louise Ryan has noticed a worrying trend in people pulling away from human connections as our reliance on the digital increases.
‘The number of people choosing robotic partners will increase unless we address the problems that online dating and technology are causing for our mental health,’ says Sarah.
‘I fear that humans are becoming more disposable than ever to each other romantically; ghosting each other, disappearing when the going gets tough or giving up because of online dating burnout.
‘Human beings are losing the art of dealing with conflict in real life and the ability to deal with different tricky scenarios with real human beings, romantic or not.’
Having witnessed the revolution of online dating, Sarah is worried about how far we are willing to take our romantic lives into the realms of the digital.
‘Virtual relationships have been a huge concern to me for a long time now,’ says Sarah.
‘I have first-hand experience of speaking to singles who have suffered rejection online and inevitably feel lonely because nothing can ever replace human touch, connection or the feel-good factor that comes from communicating with someone who has the same wants, needs and interests as you in a partnership.
‘I can’t speak for what will exist by 2050 but right now we cannot experience the magic of building a family with any virtual relationship or robotic romance.
‘Those who spend their time online trying to fill the romantic void are losing the art of flirtation and missing real opportunities to fall in love.’
But the storylines from Hollywood come from somewhere.
So where are they coming from?
Studies have already shown that humans can empathise with robotic forms in a similar way to humans.
Click here to continue reading.
SOURCE: Metro News – Natalie Morris