Romantic robots in our future? You bet, say experts

May 12 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Relationships   Year: General   Rating: 14 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Mitsubishi’s latest entry into the world of mega-profits includes “Wakamaru”, a child-shaped robot that can recognize and talk with 10 different people. Priced at $14,300, this clever creature has a vocabulary of 10,000 words, and can become companion to seniors, playmate to children, or a loving and helpful devoted family servant. Today, robots can make decisions about where to go and what to do, and although, they cannot yet make feelings, they can show them. Ignore or abuse a robot, and it becomes surly and withdrawn. Shower it with love and attention, and it blushes and makes happy smiles.

Now, developers say, robots can have feelings. U.S. Military’s DARPA recently awarded a contract to create a robotic system that can read manuals and explain them to humans. Recognizing that humans become frustrated when taking orders from robotic systems, researchers decided to program human nature and nurturing traits into their creation.

These included human examples of early childhood memories, first love during puberty, and intense stress situations of danger and competition. The final robotic system exhibited more friendliness and compassion, and evoked fewer hostile feelings. (cont.)

DARPA believes robots of the opposite sex will also be necessary, as research shows small amounts of casual flirting strengthens chemical bonds between human and robot brains. This closeness is critical for long-term space flights or military situations. Experts believe love programming will benefit companion ‘bots too, as it improves their understanding of how humans feel.

Officials at Honda, creator of the popular household robot “Asimo”, believe that by 2030, robots could possess computing power and memory equal to the human brain. Future ‘bots will learn to mimic specific human behaviors, and will project an image we are attracted to.

Author Ray Kurzweil, in his book, The Singularity is Near, suggests we are approaching the age of “full-immersion virtual-reality” with robots. Thanks to innovations in genetics, nanotech and robotics; we will soon be able to exchange intimacy with robots that equal our intelligence. These ‘bots will quickly learn how to flesh out positive emotions that make us feel good, and we will find this lure extremely hard to ignore.

Jason Nemeth, in his essay Should Robots Feel, believes love-companion robots will be practical in the future and they could easily fill the role of a loving partner, satisfying all our intimate desires. Nemeth is not sure whether human/robot love would experience higher success rate than love between two humans; but he says advancing technologies will unlock the possibilities, and human curiosity will demand that it become reality.

Kurzweil claims 2030s technologies will help us finally “overcome our genetic heritage”. We will learn how our brains operate and build computers that function similarly. “This union of human and machine is the essence of the Singularity, an era in which our intelligence becomes increasingly non-biological, and trillions of times more powerful than it is today”.

As we approach this new era, we see robots becoming more like us, and by adopting their powerful computing power, we are becoming more like them. Where will this human-machine merge take us? The answer may lie in what promises to be a truly, loving “magical future”.

Can you picture yourself falling in love with a robot?

or Show Results

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. I want my robot partner, and I want it now!

    Posted by: FutureFly   May 13, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  2. Me too. Please format mine with the head of Meg Ryan as she appeared in Sleepless in Seattle, the body of today’s Britney Spears, and the mind of Katherine Hepburn.

    Posted by: futuretalk   May 13, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend