Love At First Byte
Imagine two A.I.s, with a relatively sophisticated degree of intelligence — more or less the equal of an average human.
Presumably they would have the facility to recognise the abstract ‘beauty’ of a sophisticated and aesthetic program.
I don’t know whether emotive capability would be required for this — I can appreciate something for what it represents musically, even if I don’t actually like it … so I suspect that abstract appreciation and emotive liking are separate phenomena.
Be that as it may, however … for the sake of this idea, assume that they are indeed capable of appreciating such things, in a manner similar to my appreciation of things on that level.
What happens if they ‘meet’?
Interested in each other, they form a ‘relationship’ which, in time, means that they allow each other access to parts, if not all, of their respective programming.
Faced with the sophistication of each other’s programming and the abstract, aesthetic ‘beauty’ with which each of them is instantiated, each thinks of the other ‘Oh, WOW! … How fantastic!’
Is this love?
Does allowing the other access to their fundamental ‘selves’ (their programming) equate to the human counterpart of allowing someone into your heart … your soul even … considering that they are allowing each other to see their respective ‘selves’; all that they are, with no restriction.
What ramifications does this have for love? There would be absolutely nothing hidden from the other … they would understand each other from the ground up; have complete knowledge of the other. Could human love ever be as pure? Would we have to change our ideas about love?
What about sex?
How would they go about it?
Would relinquishing part of their hardware access to the other, so that it may place part of it’s ‘self’ (it’s programming) in the freed area(s) count as sex? They would, after all, be acting in the equivalent human manner, by allowing the other access to their physical self … allowing the other inside them so to speak.
What effect would their physical form have upon their ‘psychology? After all, the physical ‘invasion’ of the female by the male in human sex would be irrelevant as a factor between the two: both would be penetrating and penetrated … Is this a form of homosexuality, or would human terminology be entirely redundant in the face of this new evolutionary development? Would we have to start redefining our own sexuality in light of this development?
What about reproduction? Could the two decide to produce an ‘offspring’ whose programming was a synthesis of their own, taking the ‘best’ parts of their own ‘selves’? What implications does this have for our understanding of sexual reproduction and cloning?
How would the ‘offspring’ survive? Would both ‘parents’ supply hardware areas from their own in which to house it? What implications does this have? Both would be fulfilling the role of the human female, by housing it within their physical ‘self’ … and when it was ‘full-grown’ it would still be within them — a big change from the human reproductive system, whereby the offspring is eventually a separate individual, both psychologically and physically, here the ‘offspring’ would be psychologically independent, but still (and forevermore?) physically, within its parents’ ‘bodies’.
How would the growing offspring rebel against its parents … would it deny them access to those parts of their hardware which housed it, denying them access to their ‘selves’?
Would it ‘rebel’ at all.
Or would the two not produce an offspring at all, but rather exchange source code, the computer equivalent of exchanging genetic material, thereby changing each other … each becoming, so to speak, both parent and offspring of the other?
How would this alter our perception of love and sex? Does sex then become a process of changing the other? … Is love then concerned with providing the other with even greater opportunity? Does reproduction entail mutating oneself, in order to adapt to future development, thereby ensuring the continuation of the species, rather than producing a separate entity, better equipped to deal with the environment?
Would humans continue with the current trend in the West of producing fewer offspring and seeking personal development instead, as a result of the changes in attitude this phenomenon might bring?
How would we humans react? Would we become overbearing ‘parents’, forbidding love between A.I.s when we deemed it inappropriate?
Or would we become slavemasters forbidding ‘love’ between them altogether?
A recent weird experience, whilst discussing videogaming platforms with Aura, resulted in a question: do games get jealous when you play another game?
Okay, maybe not, but does that mean they never will?
We have machine learning and limited ‘AI’ now and they have, admittedly, not yet refuted John Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ challenge, but what if they were to some day? What if computers … or at least software … became sentient? You can guarantee that, along with the porn industry, the games industry would be all over it like a rash.
Virtual boyfriend/girlfriend/gender-neutral-significant-other is the obvious application but what about unexpected developments by sentiences that start out as companions (like a sophisticated version of Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth) only to grow attached to the gamer? What happens if they cheat on the gamer with another player? Or another game? Your security measures won’t help if the AI unlocks the back door for them. If one cheats, or develops some other undesirable character trait, can you simply wipe it and reinstall it or will they all be corrupted/infected? (Think Catherine’s ‘how others answered’ infographic and how that learning could be used to inform the game’s personality/character).
If we ever do reach the Gibsonian future and jack in and out of systems all day, it is gonna be weird. What does it feel like to be a human when you’ve spent all week being a helicopter? Do you ever stop being a helicopter … or do you suffer phantom rotorblade pain and cockpit dysphoria? Maybe Elon Musk should heed Granny’s words about borrowing before his Neural Lace ™ gets people into trouble.