Can Artificial Intelligence Offer Human Companionship?

Programmed To Protect, book two of my trio of slightly-futuristic erotic romances called The Tau Cetus Chronicles, revolves around a very human police agent named Wyatt who falls in love with a Beautiful Doll sex robot named Ginger. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from readers about how satisfied they were at the believable relationship these two share.

 Wyatt and Ginger truly love each other, each in their own way. And together, they manage to save their world.

 Ironically, last week hubby and I were watching a DVD of the movie Her with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. Have you seen it? It’s a powerful story of how humans can project exactly what they need onto another person, robot, or, in this case, a high-tech operating system named Samantha (voiced by Johansson). Joaquin Phoenix was amazing in his very emotional portrayal of a lonely writer who falls in love with an OS.

 And now this morning in the newspaper (yes, I still read the newspaper) there was a story about emotional robots going on sale in Japan next year. A walking, talking robot named Pepper from a company called Softbank has been designed for companionship and is supposedly capable of reading human emotions. Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son says the aim is to develop “affectionate robots that can make people smile.”

 So this seems to be a trend.

 What do you think? Can artificial intelligence offer the kind of companionship that humans crave? The closeness, the intellectual stimulation, the emotional support? It’s definitely what I portrayed in Programmed To Protect. Ginger was exactly what Wyatt wanted, and Wyatt was exactly what Ginger needed.  Still, my book is a work of fiction.

 Could an actual human being be happy with a machine?

 I think I was so affected by the movie Her because I could easily see operating systems customized to an individual’s needs becoming addictive.  I mean, who wouldn’t want an OS best friend/virtual lover who is always there at the touch of a button? Just look how smart phones have already taken over our lives!

 It's a sobering thought.  I’d like to hear your opinions...

 Jenna