MASTERSON ONLINE: Androids in our future

(Note: The original version of this column appeared in 2019. The topic has only become more relevant since then).

Think about how technology has changed our lives in just a few decades. Online streaming has replaced video stores. Mobile phones have replaced landlines and telephone booths. Social media has wiped out our attention and our personal interactions.

The dizzying technological explosion continues to accelerate as the gray and silver baby boomer generation struggles to keep pace and preserve what’s left of our privacy.

Based on everything I’ve learned lately, perhaps the most significant change in our culture in the next decade is just emerging. Be attentive and valued by readers, as artificial intelligence (AI) metastasizes to dramatically affect our nation and the world in the way we interact and live our personal lives.

Mark these words: In the next three decades we will have trouble dealing with the realistic androids that some companies are perfecting as you read. Growing advances are bound to follow each year.

I’m talking about incredibly robotic, lively, conversational and realistic companions who are becoming more and more sophisticated. If you’ve seen the 2014 science fiction film “Ex Machina” or the 1973 film “Westworld,” you’ve seen where this industry, which is already three decades old, is headed.

It is inevitable that with its continuous flowering a series of ethical and spiritual issues will be resolved within our homes and courtrooms. The UK press has been writing many stories about the manufacturers of these artificial intelligence companions made to their exact specifications and costing about a good used car.

We can expect many more reports on the phenomenon to occur in the near future as it evolves further into the dominant society. And who can say what effect this will have on an increasingly secular society obsessed with mobile phones and social media that has been so far away from the real world?

You can learn a lot more about what happens to us (and see some remarkable photographs) by searching in artificial intelligence and human company.

I can see how this continuous evolution towards new horizons can please many people. If a lone man or woman can acquire company and need affection and all that it entails (well, it’s a family diary, you know), who could blame them for acquiring their own artificial experience funded by, say, $ 350 a month seven or eight years?

An attractive AI roommate who cohabits at home can attract seniors who need help, as well as people who seek the warmth of social, physical, and mental interaction without having to face real-world expectations, often stark and disappointing. .

In this increasingly important world, I-too, my life (more than yours), world of complex relationships we have created, I suspect there is something that seems human without a single demand and focused solely on the needs of the owner , needs and desires would not be difficult to embrace for many.

Imagine how, with an android roommate (even those dedicated exclusively to daily care), there can be no undue worries about jealousy, insecurity, endless living expenses, little resentment, shame, arguments, illness , lack of companionship or loss of attraction.

But at the same time, retreating behind the front door with a computerized partner could ultimately be destructive to genuine human relationships and significant legacies that, by nature, require equal amounts of mutual donations to be successful. In other words, affection, effort and attention.

Some major media outlets such as ABC, CBS and Forbes Magazine, as well as UK newspapers, have presented stories about the huge social and cultural ramifications that artificial intelligence is introducing into human lives.

An example: in 2017, a controversial brothel with female robots was opened in Barcelona, ​​Spain, with plans to expand worldwide.

Manufacturers already produce various forms of service robots that help with household chores and other daily human needs. How many of us already have an Alexa or an Eco to tell us the daily weather, make jokes and answer our endless questions?

The leading company in android technology for intimate partners in the United States is Abyss Creations in San Marcos, California. Owner and founder Matt McMullen created the RealDoll, recognizing that it was at the forefront of something bigger than he could comprehend at the time. .

He stressed that his goal was not to replace humans, but to provide an alternative form for a physical and mental relationship, one that could reason, talk, listen, blink, joke, inform and move while at the same time sounding alarmingly realistic to many. ways. Like any technology, it works continuously to improve the product, recognizing that there will always be restrictions.

In fact, McMullen and his staff have spent 15 years developing improved versions of the software alone. His company already ships about 600 androids a year worldwide, priced between $ 4,400 and $ 50,000 or more for a custom version. I can’t help but think that a grieving spouse can buy an AI partner who looks identical in many ways to their lost loved one and then programs it with the story of their relationship.

Yes, I know it would be weird, but I suspect it’s quite possible with enough money. About 90 percent of sales are for female dolls, although male androids are also in the assembly line.

A core team of five employees works alongside McMullen: an engineer; two computer scientists; an application developer and a virtual reality expert. In 2017 an android called Harmony was designed.

Quoting The Guardian in the UK: “AI will learn through interaction, and not only will it learn about you, but it will learn about the world at large. You can tell it certain facts, remember them and become part of your knowledge base ” [McMullen] dit.

“Anyone who owns Harmony will be able to model their personality according to what they tell you. And Harmony will systematically strive to find out as much as possible about its owner and use these facts uncovered in the conversation,” so it feels like you really matter, as McMullen described it. “

Although, at the moment, achieving perfection in the creation of humanoid robots is unattainable and the notion of having a friend, partner or mechanical lover is, of course, strange, every year society approaches to have these artificial electronic entities that s ‘look like us. in many homes.

In an interview, the McMullen realist was quoted as saying that a person “cannot build something that is fully passable by a human being, mentally and physically, and don’t expect people to step back when they see it. That’s just human nature.” “.

I say time will tell.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you know exactly how you want to be treated.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, editor of three Arkansas newspapers, and directed the master’s journalism program at Ohio State University. Email it to [email protected]

as described by McMullen

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