How technology is shaping the future of love

Love buzz: Author David Levy claimed there is a “real possibility of marriage with robots.”

Will machines help us make strong relationships? “The course of true love never did run smooth,” wrote Shakespeare — before AI and virtual reality. Here are five big changes facing dating…

1/ Relationships with robots. In the movie Her, the hero Theodore Twombly becomes smitten with a female-voiced computer. Art could soon imitate life. AI expert David Levy claims that humans will marry robots “sooner” than 2050.

2/ Virtual dating. Young people date less than their parents. A study found that 56% of 14-18 year olds went on dates in 2015. For Generation X the figure was 85%. By 2050, virtual reality could allow singletons to go on dates without leaving homes.

3/ The death of monogamy. Love is often equated with the search for “the one.” This could soon become a quest for many. Some argue that polygamy should be allowed. Academic and activist Meg-John Barker claims: “The idea that monogamy is ‘normal’ in humans is hard to sustain.”

4/ Wearable love gurus. Imagine walking down the street when someone catches your eye. Augmented reality contact lenses then project the stranger's name and hobbies before your very eyes. The seeds of this technology exist now: the app Yac ranks people based on shared hobbies and friends, whilst Samsung is making AR contact lenses.

5/ DNA matchmaking. Dating is all about “chemistry”. A study suggests that genes play a key role in attraction. And advancing technology could make genome sequencing available to all. In the future, people could compare genomes to see if a relationship may work.

So will machines help us create stronger relationships?

Love machines

“Robots will bring us together,” say some. A lot of people think they are unlucky in love, but DNA matches and machines will help them to find the perfect person (or people).

“Machines will drive us apart,” others respond. Love at its deepest is mysterious, complex, and human. Relying on technology too much will kill those real human connections upon which love is built.

You Decide

  1. Is it right for people to love robots?

Activities

  1. Without using a dictionary, write definitions of the words “love”, “passion”, and “desire”. Do you think it is possible for a robot to feel these emotions? Why/why not?

Some People Say...

“Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.”

Loretta Young

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
This year a 31-year-old Chinese man called Zheng Jiajia “married” a robot he had built himself. However, this marriage was not recognised by the authorities. Computerised contact lenses are still in development.
What do we not know?
It is impossible to know which combination of genes are able to predict to whom humans will be attracted, if such genes even exist.

Word Watch

Study
From Jean Twenge’s 2017 book iGen, published by Atria Books.
Generation X
Refers to the people born between the early 1960s and 1980s.
Polygamy
The practice of having more than one husband or wife at one time.
Augmented reality
Technology which superimposes computer-generated images onto the user’s view of the world.
Study
Study led by Dr Albert Tenesa from the University of Edinburgh.
Genome sequencing
Procedure which maps the entire DNA sequence of a person’s genome — the set of biological codes, or genes, that determine how people are formed.

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