Do you use Youtube, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Spotify, Gmail, Spotify, or TikTok on a regular basis?
Then AI is controlling most of what you see and do online.
Those expansive, popular services all use AI learning to customize your online experience in some way. In fact, AI manipulates our addictions to social media and our phones, which I believe is far more frightening than an invasion of Terminator-like robots.
These “algorithms” that learn on their own are sometimes called “narrow AI” because they have intelligence, but only for one specific task.
We’ve previously covered the subject at Denison Forum:
- Steve Yount asked, “Will artificial intelligence achieve “godlike” power?”
- I addressed a new technology in “AI creates fake faces indistinguishable from real people.”
- And I also asked the question that no one during Jesus’ time would have: “What does the Bible say about AI?”
These technologies continue to evolve and change. The US government is finally reviewing outdated internet regulation laws, in part due to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony before Congress.
In addition to AI developments, robotic technology is also developing.
The confluence of these two technological innovations has resulted in at least one fascinating, if not concerning, product.
A robot companion that reads emotions
A company based in Japan has released small, furry robots on wheels that respond to human emotions.
Their site says, “LOVOT will react to your moods, and do all it can to fill you with joy and re-energize you. LOVOT was born for just one reason – to be loved by you.” It says their small adorable pets are “powered by love.”
LOVOT does this through fifty high-tech sensors. It responds to its owner’s facial expressions and movements. How does it know what to do to stimulate your loving emotions? According to their website, through machine learning and deep learning, i.e., through AI.
AI already uses human emotion to trap you in emotional loops so you spend more time on social media sites. Now, at some level, the developers of LOVOT are connecting that to robots. All things considered, the price seems remarkably low (around $3,000). It’s currently only sold in Japan, and it’s been on the market for around four years.
It’s difficult to tell whether LOVOTs are popular or just another product of a failed startup, but the fact remains that robotics and AI tech are improving.
What will we do with that tech?
Where do AI, robots, and VR lead?
The idea of AI learning how to garner its owner’s affections and stimulate feelings of love is done in all kinds of ways. This little robot is comparable to a pet (rather than mimicking humans) and seems fairly harmless. However, there are other less innocent applications of this kind of technology.
Improvements in virtual reality and human-like robots combined with AI development lends itself to a whole new world of potential. What world we create with that is left to the culture.
With the sexual revolution and the acceptance of a post-truth worldview, the culture at large will likely express acceptance of romantic and sexual relations with robots. It might express excitement at the prospect of higher-tech pornography.
We’ve already started down the route of mimicking and faking human affection. I’ve written previously on how pornography drives much of the progress in new virtual reality technology. While humans can twist technologies to our perverted desires, it begs the question:
Why can’t a LOVOT (or any construct) genuinely love or be loved?
Why can’t robots love or be loved?
Because we all intuitively understand that love requires choice. Anything forced to love someone doesn’t love at all, no matter how well it mimics the real thing. While we often turn to twisted versions of love because of our sinful desire for control, deep down, it’s evident that love requires someone else’s free choice.
Neuroscientist and relationship coach Bobbi Banks says, “[Robotic partners] would give people full control over their love life and it would allow them to create the ‘perfect partner’ but it would do more bad than good.” She says that not having a real, human relationship would make us unable to cope with life’s challenges and could lead to more depression (a trend we already see in a culture obsessed with a connection through media).
She continues, “What makes a relationship worth having is the human connection and learning to love each other despite our faults. We need to embrace the struggles in life and learn from the pain as that’s what makes us stronger and teaches us to be better.”
Why God didn’t make us robots
God could have created us as mechanistic robots, programmed to worship him and do his bidding. Instead, he made a partnership with humans to reign over the earth and steward it (Genesis 1:26–30; 2:15).
In the garden of Eden, Eve took the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17). Instead of trusting God for that knowledge and obeying God’s word not to eat it, she trusted in her wisdom and the snake’s words (Genesis 3:1–6). Adam followed suit.
In the next story, Cain is presented with another choice. God warns him that “sin is crouching at your door,” using the imagery of an animal about to pounce. God says to him “you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6–8). He chooses not to listen and schemes to kill his brother out of jealousy. Giving into that sin leads to consequences (Genesis 4:11–14).
God knew beforehand that humans would rebel, yet created them with free will anyway. In spite of this, he loves us and desires us to love him. In his love for us, he forgives us if we will accept that grace (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Before becoming friends or pursuing romantic relationships with others, we know that other people will fail. Before we interact with other flawed, free people, we need to start from a place of grace because God started from a place of grace for us.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
When we love other humans, we have to mix in a healthy dose of forgiveness to that love, because that person will let us down. As Paul says in Colossians, “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (3:13)
God, however, will never let us down, nor will we outrun his grace and forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
LOVOT may have been created “to be loved by you,” but you were made to be loved by God.
The choice is yours.