TCD academic scoffs at notion of robot love


16 Oct 2007

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We will be marrying and having intimate relations with robots by 2050 predicts artificial intelligence researcher David Levy who works with at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

However, Trinity College Dublin researcher Dave Delany labeled the idea of human-robot marriage as “a trivial and sensationalist footnote” in the magnitude of the technological, religious and social rights problems likely to be associated with the development of true artificial consciousness.

The unusual forecast of Levy’s is the result of his recent PhD on human-robot interactions and would make for interesting interpretation of Isaac Asimov’s three Laws of Robotics.

Levy told LiveScience magazine that he predicted that by 2050 marriage to robots would be legalized first in the state of Massachusetts.

He mentioned the combination of liberal views on same sex marriage coupled with high-tech research in MIT as reasons why this US state would be the forerunner in robot rights and relationships.

The researcher went on to explain that the psychological reason behind why humans fall in love could easily be applied to human-robot interactions.

He suggested that people who, for various reasons ranging from shyness to personality disorders, have problems forming relationships with others could benefit from robot bonding.

Dave Delany, postdoctoral research fellow with the Mathematical Neuroscience Group in the School of Mathematics in Trinity College Dublin, told Silicon Republic that people have been forming unusual attachments to inanimate objects since time immemorial.

However he rebuffs the idea of love with robots. “The notion of humans forming romantic attachments to robots is a comparatively mundane and salacious technological extrapolation,” he said.

“Human-robot marriages are an altogether different story. The idea of reciprocal, legally-sanctioned romantic relationships between humans and robots only makes sense in the context of the eventual development of full artificial sentience,” he explained.

By Marie Boran