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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Embracing the robot

John Danaher
aeon.co
Originally posted March 19, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Contrary to the critics, I believe our popular discourse about robotic relationships has become too dark and dystopian. We overstate the negatives and overlook the ways in which relationships with robots could complement and enhance existing human relationships.

In Blade Runner 2049, the true significance of K’s relationship with Joi is ambiguous. It seems that they really care for each other, but this could be an illusion. She is, after all, programmed to serve his needs. The relationship is an inherently asymmetrical one. He owns and controls her; she would not survive without his good will. Furthermore, there is a third-party lurking in the background: she has been designed and created by a corporation, which no doubt records the data from her interactions, and updates her software from time to time.

This is a far cry from the philosophical ideal of love. Philosophers emphasise the need for mutual commitment in any meaningful relationship. It’s not enough for you to feel a strong, emotional attachment to another; they have to feel a similar attachment to you. Robots might be able to perform love, saying and doing all the right things, but performance is insufficient.

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