The 2014 movie Ex Machina shows what happens when a human falls in love with a machine, but could it happen in real life – either human or mechanical?
As robot personalities become more and more humanlike, could we see these inter-technological relationships become commonplace?
Could robots steal our hearts as well as our jobs?
That intriguing prospect is being explored by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and they are looking for help to do so from anyone with an interest in relationships and how technology affects them.
Humanity’s fascination with robotic love is nothing new.
An ancient Chinese text refers to an automaton charming the ladies in the court of King Mu of Zhou in the third century BC.
The king was not amused to be second-bested by a mechanical man so he had certain parts removed to make him less attractive.
The Trinity team are not proposing anything quite so drastic.
They are inviting computer savvy individuals – whether lovelorn or not – to consider the future of meaningful relationships and how technology will change them via an interactive conversation that will begin with the question: Would you swap your partner for a robot designed to be ‘the one’?
Robot manufacturers are creating very convincing humanoid robots so the question may not be as daft as it sounds.
Consider the pluses: a perfectly matched mate who is never too tired to... play footsie, can be programmed to meet your every whim – domestic or otherwise.
Never makes demands, never complains or gives unasked-for advice and can move from the bedroom to the boardroom with equal ease.
The Trinity researchers expect the conversation to evolve organically between hundreds of participants as it takes place in The Heliosphere, an online forum which uses a 360-degree camera and livestream to allow online audiences from all over the world to engage directly with those chatting in situ.
The conversation will be mediated by Dr Kevin Koidl, the lead researcher on the Heliosphere project from Trinity’s School of Computer Science and Statistics and the ADAPT Centre.
It takes place from 5pm on Friday next as part of PROBE: Research Uncovered at Trinity College Dublin – an interactive pop-up festival run to celebrate European Researchers’ Night.