Can people fake love

Robotics - A robot for lonely hours: one in three people can imagine a relationship

A robot for lonely hours: every third person can imagine a relationship

They are still important tools in industry or make everyday life easier for us. But robots are becoming more and more similar to real people and could soon become our emotional partners. Many would not be averse to such a relationship.

They assemble cars, pack food or transport pallets from A to B: Robots have long become indispensable tools in industry. In the private sector, too, the longer, the more it enters, the more artificial intelligence mows our lawns, vacuums dust in the living room or cleans our windows. There are even electronic pets that are becoming more and more similar to real living beings and with which people often develop a deep emotional bond.

Intimate relationship with the smartphone

Even if we value robots today primarily as relieving tools, in some future they could be our emotional partners. The figures from a representative survey carried out on behalf of the online partner agency parship.ch show that this idea is by no means absurd. 1000 people in German and French-speaking Switzerland between the ages of 18 and 69 took part in the opinion poll - with astonishing results.

More than a third (36 percent) of those surveyed can imagine an emotional relationship between humans and machines. Among the participants under 30 years of age, almost one in two (47 percent) consider the love of an emotionally intelligent robot to be a possible alternative to a human relationship in the event of loneliness. The reason they give is that they already have an intimate relationship with their smartphone or tablet PC.

The Swiss futurologist Georges T. Roos also collaborated on the new study. He is certain that in just a few decades, emotionally intelligent machines will accompany us as virtual partners through everyday life: “They will be our constant conversation partners, know our preferences and even hear from our voices how we are doing and react accordingly . "

Current devices are still far from simulating emotions in a lifelike way. Nevertheless, they can already create a deep emotional bond among users. "It is easy for people to get involved in a good simulation," explains Roos and adds: "For example, we can develop feelings while flirting in online chat, even though the other person only sends a few characters back."

Simulate human emotions

The technology, the development of which is currently being intensively researched and which could one day make human interaction with a machine extremely real, is called "cognitive computing". So self-learning and self-acting robots that come very close to the human model. These computer systems are no longer based on programs, but use artificial intelligence and learning algorithms to train their perception, cognition and reaction. "Through speech recognition and independent searches for answers, such machines also learn about our human feelings and can simulate what is important to us in a relationship," says the futurologist.

Roos recognizes both positive and negative aspects of human and machine coexistence: “Intelligent emotional robots are certainly no substitute for a human relationship. For people who are involuntarily alone - for example because of an illness - this technology could do a lot for their wellbeing. "

Love trainer of the future

Emanuele Arielli, professor of psychology at the University of Venice, is skeptical of the study. For him, the research question of the Parship study is formulated too general. “An emotional bond can include inanimate objects - after all, we sometimes have feelings of hatred towards an object,” says Arielli. "However, we do not desire an artificial object as we desire a person." The psychologist is certain that the result would have been different if the question had been asked in the sense of “falling in love” or “being a couple”.

He, too, can imagine that robots will live among us in the future. However, Arielli does not believe that they rob us of the ability to have a relationship with someone. On the other hand, they could serve as a training tool to improve our skills - also as a relationship partner. “Even today, computers play chess much better than humans. Nevertheless, players do not forego playing against people, ”explains the psychologist. “They use the programs much more to acquire better moves against human players. So maybe one day there will be training simulations that improve the often deplorable ability of modern humans to relate. "