Robots can’t love.

Courtesy of a favorite webcomic of mine, I accidentally discovered some pretty interesting stuff yesterday.

First off is www.cleverbot.com – pretty much someone’s attempt to get a robot to pass the Turing Test, which is essentially a test to determine whether or not a given respondent to the test is human or not. Apparently it’s doing a fairly good job.

Next up is this video…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnzlbyTZsQY. It’s two chat bots talking to each other. Some freaky things to note…

  • Both bots identified the other as a robot
  • The subject of God was addressed
  • One of the robots wanted a body
Anybody else worried about the impending robot apocalypse? Yeah, me neither.
But anyway, it got me thinking. That and the fact that Cleverbot keeps bringing up the subject of love have made me have to explain to a robot why it can’t love.
So here’s why robots can’t love.
Love is a decision. No matter what the songs say, what the media may have you think, love it not some mystical magical force that just sucks people in like some horrifying black hole calamity and ruins lives, relationships, and exterminates the dodo bird.
In order to really be able to make a decision – a moral decision, not a random decision, you have to be free. Robots aren’t free. They’re programmed. They are defined and have their limits. A robot cannot make a moral decision because they aren’t really alive. They’re like some sort of freaky macro-virus-thingy.
Allow me to explain. Right about now Jenny Deenik is going to be so proud that I actually remembered our discussion sophomore year as to what makes something alive, and my little sister is probably going to say, “Hey, we just did that!”
There are seven general characteristics of life.
  • Ability to reproduce. Robots can’t.
  • Response to stimuli. Robots do.
  • Growth. Robots…don’t.
  • Adaptation. Good AI like Cleverbot does adapt, so points there.
  • Metabolism…I suppose you could consider some forms of robotic power like that…but I have yet to see a clear-cut example of robotic metabolism.
  • Organization. Well, robots are organized…but not on a cellular level.
  • Homeostasis, or the regulation of internal environment such as temperature. I don’t think cooling fans and heat sinks qualify for this.
So, in general, robots get a 3-4 out of 7.
The point being that robots can’t love. At least, not yet.
Love is a choice. Love isn’t randomly born and then one day just dies. We choose whether or not to love. We may fight a lot with people who are really close to us, but at the end of the day, we may still choose to love them. We are free to choose, and act based on those choices. It’s the one thing we have, really. Our choices. We can choose love or hate. It’s easy when you get right down to it.
So remember: choose love. Because robots can’t.

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