Spokeo Blog

Sex, Lies, and Online Dating

Written by October 14, 2010

Safeguarding Your Love Life – Part 4

Robot Love
Dating, while complex, is always exciting. No matter how old we are, the mere possibility of a romantic connection manages to stir the imagination and captivate us. It gets our endorphins flowing and adrenaline pumping. It exhilarates. It invigorates. It fills us with exuberance and anticipation – and, on occasion, with anxiety and trepidation. Dating can make our hearts beat faster and our breaths become shallower. It can make our palms sweat, and our knees go weak. It can make us feel youthful and spry, but can also cause our mouths to go dry.

Being the subject of a romantic interest ignites a spark within us. It can make us feel attractive and desirable. It can boost self confidence and make us feel able. Mating rituals – candle-lit dinners, new outfits — these are the things fantasies are made of. And meeting new people and trying them on for size – it charges our dreams, but — can also pound us to smithereens. Dating fills us with visions of romantic futures, and hopes of landing the perfect love. It can also devastate and discourage us, leave us feeling rebuffed and pulverized.  Dating can make us fly higher than an eagle, and plunge us into the depths of despair. It can stimulate, scintillate, or just flat wear. Let’s face it – dating can be a nightmare.

So, what if you didn’t have to go through all of that? What if there were a way to spare us all of the emotional gyrations — avoid all of the sharp rollercoaster-like twist and turns, and the gut-wrenching ups and downs? What if you could have the perfect match – a kindred spirit, a virtual soul mate, but without all of the strife? If you had to forgo the exhilaration and excitement of getting to know someone new for the promise of a perfect, if virtual, long-term mate, what would you do — who would you select?

Meet Geminoid – the brain child of Japanese Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Geminoid is an android – a robot that resembles a human being. In this case, he is the virtual “twin” of his creator, Dr. Ishiguro himself. In fact, the resemblance is so uncanny, at times it is difficult to tell them apart. And that is pretty much the point. Life can be hectic. There are times we all wish we could be in two places at once. Geminoid affords us that possibility, the Science Channel video, “PopSci’s Future Of: Robot Love” explains. He can serve as a double, and stand in for his master self.  “If I send Geminoid to a conference,” Dr. Ishiguro explains, I don’t have to travel to a foreign country.” The android can go instead.  It is the concept behind the movie “Multiplicity” come to real life. Geminoid offers the possibility of reproducing ourselves and having multiple, simultaneous versions running around all at once. He can be doing one job while we’re off doing the next.

So what exactly is Geminoid? Geminoid is what is known as a hybrid-system robot.  He obeys commands, but can function on his own as well. The autonomous function built into his system is responsible for small motions such as eye movement and blinking, whereas the tele-operated function controls larger movements.The Geminoid system can also send the operator’s voice through the internet. “The operator can naturally control the Geminoid,” Dr. Ishiguro explains.

The science of “androidism” has some basic tenets. First, androids have to look and feel human. Secondly, they have to act human as well. This is where cognitive science comes in.  As technology progresses the notion of a full-functioning human-like robot, complete with artificial intelligence and human demeanor, may no longer be a concept only out of a science fiction movie anymore. In fact, it might not be long before we each have our own “double” standing in to handle the overload.

On behalf of all die-hard 2001 Space Odyssey fans, and the HAL-averse alike, we wondered, “So, who wins? Which is better – a human or android?” When Dr. Ishiguro posed this question to his wife she considered her response carefully.  “You know, Geminoid is better,” she ultimately decided. The reason? Because her husband is so busy, he is rarely at home.  And this takes us to the heart of the matter — employing androids not only as stand-ins for our busy lives, but as surrogate companions as well.

In the not-so-distant future, loneliness could soon become a thing of the past. Forget blow-up dolls. Rather than wallowing in misery merely hoping to find love, we could simply build perfect robotic companions to fill the void instead. Our androids will be programmed to listen to us, enjoy our interests, respond to our affections, and entertain us in kind.  As the Science Channel video sums it up best — it’s “Love with a lifetime warranty.” Fabulous, or just too weird?

Despite our clear appreciation for cutting-edge engineering in most areas of life, we here at Spokeo have to admit, we are still somewhat unfashionable when it comes to our take on companionship. Roller-coaster gyrations et al., we still vote for humans. Nothing else quite equates. Or, at least not yet. TO BE CONTINUED…


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