A Future of Love and Technology
Who says you can’t buy love? Technology that can guide and shape our most intimate relationships is on the horizon, with simulations and robotics amongst them. In the near future, AI, augmented reality, wearables, and digital environments will also change the way we meet, interact, and end our relationships.
But do we understand all the implications love tech will have? Technology is a two-way street. When we interact with it, it interacts with us. We often don’t stop to consider what the entity on the other of end of that relationship might take from us in the process. The widespread systemic consequences of personal convenience are not always evident. The unintended consequences and uses of any given technology can be difficult to predict. As a result, we might be ill-prepared for future possibilities that impact our everyday lives and our society. The future of love is no exception to that.
To explore what the near future may hold, I created a set of four commercials from the future featuring ‘Eros Labs’, a fictional love tech company from 2024. The intention was to demonstrate and understand how seemingly desirable technology (parts one to three) could have widespread systemic consequences (part four).
So, how might a future of love play out?
For complete article and alternative uses of each featured concept, please click here.
Let’s start at the beginning. How might technology allow us to meet the ‘right’ partner? What will access to love tech do to our sense of judgement, values, and what we perceive as important? And what if we could navigate our way through tricky situations with more ease? It’s easy to imagine the upside of Love Maps, but they may have negative consequences too. For instance, someone could use this same technology to gaslight their partner. What if someone hacks into the software and uses it exploit or blackmail you? Less sinister, what is the role of mystery and novelty in love, and is that worth preserving?
Can you fake it until you make it? Clues about whether or not a relationship is working are peppered in details like the tone of your voice and the words you use, and artificial intelligence may be able to identify and/or predict whether or not things are headed south.
We know that relationships require work, and a little nudge in the right direction might be helpful. If our environment conspires with our possessions and our biology to direct us to a particular outcome, what happens to our perception of reality? Such technology should raise concerns about who or what triggers the manufacturing process and how far that process could go. On the flip side, this same technology that perpetuates love might keep an abusive relationship going, allow for mass manipulation, and could be subject to hijacking.
Planned Emotional obsolence
Is it better to have loved and lost without a sense of loss? Some of us might choose to avoid heartbreak altogether if we had the option. Our messy emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience. With negative emotions removed, would that experience still be a human one? How would this affect our sense of empathy and altruism? What would be the socio-economic and political drawbacks if we all fell out of love with someone or something at once?
Not so cute anymore, is it? The future depicted throughout the four videos is within our grasp. It is full of privacy issues, moral dilemmas, and systemic consequences. If this possible future concerns you, remember that a version of ‘Eros Labs’ exists today. Facebook is no better. The company has knowingly and willingly undermined democracy, and it is the time we spend on that platform that empowers them to do so. Yet, how many of us continue to put our personal need for convenience and connection ahead of our collective need for democracy?
If a social media platform can allow a foreign power to the manipulate U.S. elections, imagine what Deepfakes can do. The alternative uses of reality-
bending Deepfake filters are extensive. Those in power could undermine truth and our perception of reality, which will then have far-reaching socio-economic, political, and environmental consequences. Worse, that power could be wielded by anyone who can create Deepfakes — individuals who have not been democratically elected and/or might be serving an undesirable agenda. There is little policy and regulation that can prevent or combat this possibility. That is a real danger.
Eros Labs ©Leah Zaidi, 2019