I, Robot, take you, Robert, to be my wedded husband?

Do current trends in robotics and artificial intelligence really point to the possibility of humans and robots forming personal relationships?

Concluding from the changing attitudes towards the meaning of marriage and the development of AI, within a few decades robots will be so humanlike in their appearance and functionality, in their personality, and in their expression of emotions, that many people will be falling in love with them, have intimate relationships with them, and even marrying them. This controversial statement comes from the recently defended doctoral thesis of David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher and international chess master. The thesis titled “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners” was presented at the University of Maastricht in The Netherlands.

David Levy says that in the past people only showed affection for other humans, but that this has now expanded to include pets and even robotic dogs. In his opinion, this trend will eventually lead to humans loving sophisticated robots. Such predictions may not be as groundless as they seem: in near future we will be able to build robots that will not only look almost, or even just, like real people, but also be programmed to share our views, likes or dislikes, knowledge and values. If our expectations of our partner change, all we’d have to do is reprogramme him. Doesn’t it sound like a dream of an ideal partner come true?

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