All You Need Is Robot Love
By Tim Moran
I am sure Hooman Samani, an artificial intelligence researcher at the Keio-NUS CUTE Center, a collaboration between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Keio University of Japan, is a brilliant--and no doubt very nice--guy. He is also clearly forward-thinking; no, that's not quite strong enough--he's truly outrÃ©: Samani is, in fact, the Hugh Hefner of robotics.
As if avatars, chatbots, and cyborg plants aren't enough, Samani now offers up the concept of "lovotics," which refers to human-to-robot relationships. These relationships are said to "offer new possibilities for exploring the concept and possibilities of human love. After industrial, service and social robots, lovotics introduces a new generation of robots, with the ability to love and be loved by humans."
This is no small feat, for creating a lovotics-ready robot is a multidisciplinary effort that involves, in one form or another: philosophy, psychology, biology, anthropology, neuroscience, social science, robotics, computer science, engineering, and artificial intelligence.
One of the more novel aspects of lovotics is that, according to Samani, "developing an affection system similar to that of the human being presents considerable technological challenges." What this means in reality is that the artificial intelligence systems required of lovotics include an artificial endocrine system (based on the physiology of love), probabilistic love assembly (based on the psychology of love) and affective state transition (based on emotions) modules.
All of this engineering, programming, and science, in the end, allow the lovotics robot to be "an active participant in the communication process and adjust its internal hormonal levels and affective states depending on inputs and feedback from the human."
In other words, this robot is ready for love--albeit, an admittedly new form of love. I feel somewhat better, though, for now I at least have an idea for where robot babies come from.
For your viewing edification and pleasure, here's a video from the Samani's site that says more about what lovotics is than I ever could. It's only 2.40, and it gets a little...weird at the end, but still safe for work.
L'amour, toujours, l'amour!