Robot Girl

STORY BY Ellen Xie

Published: September 4, 2013

Smart phones have invaded. Wherever you go—the subway, a café, a concert—people are at it—tapping, swiping, and twisting their bulgy screens for the latest update of trivial importance. In China, the girls I meet watch Lady Gaga videos on a Chinese version of YouTube. The Korean dance, Gangnam Style, has become a worldwide phenomenon. Technology has and continues to bridge the cultural and language barriers designated by the boundaries of geography.

Indeed, the effects of technology have been wide-ranging, from tracking the human genome of our ancestors, changing the transportation industry with the development of high speed rail, to altering the way people interact on a daily basis. People have accepted the change, as they are apt to do, without much thought, and for the most part, the changes have been good, or at least, innocuous.

Then, the day comes, when a front page headline on BBC World News reads, “Will We Ever Want to Have Sex with Robots?” accompanied by a man in the embrace of a too-lifelike-for-comfort bionic woman. They sit on a couch with a glass of wine, watching television like the typical American couple.

David Levy, author of “Love and Sex with Robots” believes we will be able to fall in love with artificial life in 40 years and calls the robots a “terrific service” for mankind. Indeed, a relationship with a human involves just as equal amount of guesswork, and an assumption of intelligence and emotive capacity. However, at least there is a certainty of emotion, whereas with robots, all is left to guesswork.

The internet seems to provide answers to everything. “What is the best future career to choose?” “Why did my relationship fail?” Google pops up with seven pages of answers, with an ellipses and NEXT link that suggest an infinite number of life solutions. Yet, psychologist Sherry Turkle says, “if you are trying to solve the problem of care and companionship with a robot, you are not trying to solve it with the people you need to solve it with—friends, family, community.” The advice of savvy internet bloggers may not know as much about your career goals or your relationship as you. The robot may not replace the ex you are trying most notably to let go.

In this upcoming world where artificial intelligence may substitutes all work, even that of the heart, people will and must adapt to the changing currents. However, they may also benefit by occasionally stepping back, and evaluating the innovation that threatens to re-define the very definition of life as is. 

Other Stories by Ellen Xie
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