There is a hidden revolution going on within the more obvious revolution of the explosion of wireless technology. Once upon a time if you saw a person on the telephone you knew they were interacting with another person. The mobile cell-phone is nothing different in principal than the landline phone. Texting and email is just a modern fancier version of the telegraph system, which in turn was a more modern fancier version of smoke signals or flag semaphores. Today, it’s not unusual to see, in fact it’s probably now the norm, to see people everywhere holding a piece of wireless technology, usually a smart-phone. But when you observe the person interacting with that wireless device, can you still assume that they are interacting with another human being? You can’t anymore and that’s the hidden revolution. There’s so much virtual reality and artificial intelligence software out there in the ether that when you see someone on their mobile cell-phone, it is very possible the interaction is not with a human but a two-way interaction with computer software, software that mimics a human. Just like it is possible to become emotionally involved with another human, ditto one can become unnaturally attached and dependent on the human mimic. Perhaps even to the extent of wishing to marry that human mimic. We all love it when someone does something for us – well that someone could now just as easily be a something.
We already know people, especially young people, who are obsessed with social contacts (at a distance) via email and Twitter and Facebook and who desire lots of ‘likes’ – what better way to avoid any sort of rejection and ‘dislikes’ than to embrace a virtual (software) friend and companion who’s programmed not to ever reject you.
Marriage or a relationship is traditionally between a man and a woman (or many women and one man, sometimes many men and one woman).
There are other sorts of relationships. The life-size inflatable ‘sex’ dolls for one, which is only a slightly more advanced version from that proposed in the very popular song sung by the Mills Brothers in 1943 titled “Paper Doll” (written by Johnny S. Black in 1915).
Then of course there are those same-sex relationships, the one drawback being problems in biological reproduction, but if you don’t want children, or are happy to adopt, that’s no big deal.
Many people already prefer relationships with pets (companion animals) over people*. Some people have literally ‘married’ their pets.
Some people advertise for a human-human relationship, but if you’re happy with a close encounter of the non-sexual artificial or virtual kind, instead of putting out a classified ad for a perfect human mate, select an off-the-shelf virtual reality (VR) or artificial intelligence (AI) program, or program your own VR or AI to meet your specific or exacting intellectual and emotional needs. Apparently the era of the computer mouse is doomed to extinction and sooner rather than later. Instead of letting your fingers do the walking (or clicking), it’s your mouth that will do the talking. That Star Trek scenario of talking to your computer is nearly to hand. Further, based on past behaviour, your computer software will start to tell you what you want to know before you ask – that’s actually very human like behaviour. To repeat what I said above, we all love it when someone does something for us – well that someone could now just as easily be a something.
Relations between humans and VR or AI have been a sci-fi staple for decades, often akin to human-robotic/android relationships which could do things for you (or to you) that today’s cell-phone VR or AI can’t (yet) do. But the cell-phone of today ultimately will morph into the robot/android of tomorrow. Human-robotic relationships can mirror all the forms of a human-human relationship, except ultimately a robot/android can’t get pregnant or get you pregnant. So you’re still going to need human-human sex. Thus, there will always be a need for a human-human relationship, even if it ends up being sperm meets egg in a test-tube.
What of the far future? Might it ever come to pass that human-VR or AI might pass for the standard scenario or normal undertaking in relationships? Wouldn’t it be great not having dealings with an unpredictable human mood-swinging great unwashed partner, just a ‘someone’ who is 100% respectful and helpful and kind and considerate 100% of the time, and if you really need it, has an off-switch!
If the religious right are frothing at the mouth over intimate same-sex human-human relationships and same-sex marriages, they will probably have a total seizure over a love affair between a human and VR, AI and associated robotic/android pairings.
*We all know the old well known joke – wife to husband (or vice versa), “Either the dog goes or I go” – reply: “So long, it’s been good to know you, but the dog stays”. Then there is that step to a happy marriage: divorce the husband and marry the cat!