People already can, it doesn’t have to be a very sophisticated artefact. People get sexually aroused by shoes, for instance. Someone has certainly already been in love with a robot, or calls it love. A person can have a feeling about anything and they are entitled to have that feeling. But love is a combination word; it is about you and I, embedded in it is this other. Can that ever really happen with a robot? Even a really advanced robot would not be able to reciprocate that emotion.
In a sense, people already attribute machines with more than they are capable of, and think that humans are just complex machines. Our idea of God is deeply flawed, as it is a first person narrative. We know you need a man and a woman to create life, you can’t have this imaginary scenario which excludes women, as if men alone could create the universe and everything in it. Evolution stories often start with the ape and end up with man walking, as if the whole history of humanity were done through men alone.
“AI and robotics are just a continuation of our consumer society, the idea that products will not only meet our needs, but also our wants and desires.”
So I think because we are dominated by this non-relational structure of society, if you buy into that, you could buy into the idea that you could love a robot. An awful lot of violence occurs to women and children around this myth of the “lonely man”, that in order for his needs to be met, there has to be a sub-class to provide for him. This really needs to be knocked on the head. Just as I take the position that you can’t exclude women from the creation story of life, neither can you exclude men from the relational story of life. When you have real intimacy and trust, you learn a lot about yourself and others. Imagine instead if all relationships were superficial, like they are on Facebook.
AI and robotics are just a continuation of our consumer society, the idea that products will not only meet our needs, but also our wants and desires. It’s a model where society is organised around products and property and not relations and people. The origin story of AI has its roots in slavery, where people were tools, pieces of property. But people are not property, so they will resist. As long as people still want to love and be loved, there is hope for humanity.