In the future, Valentine's Day for some could involve a romantic dinner with a robot, speculate Queensland University of Technology researchers Kate Letheren and Jonathan Roberts. They say machines could develop into something more sophisticated and more human-like, which could lead to people seeing them as potential romantic partners.
Letheren and Roberts note recent opinion suggests people might even fall in love with their robot companions. They observe it is already normal to love and welcome pets as family members, and recent studies show people feel a similar amount of empathy for robot pain as they do for human pain. However, Letheren and Roberts say if scientists are to develop robots that can mirror and express their digital love for humans, a definition of love will need to be established.
They also point out society may have a difficult time accepting human-robot relationships, and digital love may have a harmful effect on human relationships. Scientists will need to consider "whether robots should be programmed to have consciousness and real emotions so they can truly love us back," say Letheren and Roberts.
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