“I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.” – Amy Adams from the movie “Her” (Jonze, 2013)
This week’s post is a special edition in honor of Valentine’s Day, which is all about love, romance, relationships, and connections. When we think about love we view it as a human to human connection, but with growing technology there is another type of love connection: humans and their technology.
For this post, will be examining a psychological effect known as the “Tamagotchi effect“. The Tamagotchi effect is where you develop emotions and become attached to computers, technology, and machines, which you then reflect human emotions and characteristic and even a personality onto this inanimate piece of technology. This love story took off in the late 1990’s when such toys like the Tamagotchi and Furby were introduced and became the hottest toy around, where everyone had to own one, including myself. for those who don’t know what a Tamagotchi is, it was a virtual pet in the palm of your hand that you named, and took care of, and if you didn’t, it would die. Furby was a robotic pet resembling a hamster or an owl. Furby talked and learnt, and was one of the first forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI). But throughout the years, the has been a huge evolution of this love story, where furbys and Tamagotchis have been replaced with cellphones, and Siri. This emotional attachment of a love story has become more intense because of the current technology that we use everyday, such as our smartphones, or computers. We rely on our technology so much that most our generation has developed Nomophobia. Nomophobia is a specific phobia of no having a mobile phone or “No-phone-phobia“. This phobia suggests that we have developed an emotional attachment to an inanimate object.
The psychology behind this love connection coincides with a few cognitive effects such as attachment theory. Attachment theory is defined as an emotional bond that connects to humans where they both become sensitive to each other behaviors and needs. Normally attachment theory is between two people or an adult and infant, but in this case the attachment is between a human and their technology
One article that I read examines the impact of the connection between a person and their virtual technology. With indulging technology, it can be a form of entertainment and enjoyment. for older people, a virtual pet can be a companion. Retirement homes in Japan and Hong Kong are giving their residents robot babies and seals. The idea behind this is to provide lonely people with social interaction. Another article that I read examines a similar experiment where Paro a robot seal is introduced to the elderly as a form of therapy. The elderly’s social interaction with Paro elevates their mood, which in turn causes physiological changes for the better. People who suffer with dementia are given Paro to provide them with constant social interaction resulting in increased levels of happiness and enjoyment which stimulated their brains and reduced their symptoms. This is one of the positives of human-technology interaction.
But like most love stories, there is a dramatic point in our love story of humans and technology, where we examine the negatives that humans will endure because of this connection.
With current technology, people are becoming more dependent on it as it becomes part of our everyday life. For example, in 2013, a movie call “Her” was released, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson. “Her” is about a lonely writer who develops a relationship and falls in love with an operating system. this I think, although can appear to far-fetched has a large grain of truth to it. With technology, today, people are more comfortable with have a relationship with a computer for technology than with an actual human being where the love is reciprocal. “You always wanted to have a wife without the challenges of actually dealing with anything real and I’m glad that you found someone. It’s perfect.”(Jonze, 2013) This quote from “Her” I think emulates the relationship between AI and humans because technology inhibits our real-life interactions, where we begin to talk to our technology like it’s a living being.
This movie leads to the negative effects that occur because of our preference to technology versus human interaction, because of this choice we become more vulnerable and are more impacted by psychological issues. One article looks at the negative psychological effects of technology overuse, illustrating that there is an increased chance of having depression, anxiety, and stress. Because of the non- reciprocal interaction that occurs, people become less adaptive to other people’s needs and are less able to interact with different types of people who have different views, experiences, and personality.
Throughout this post and researching articles, I came across robotic girl where I believe that a line has been crossed is in the case of Erica: The Android Robot. She is a Japanese robot who can partake in actual conversation, and can make various facial expressions.
I wonder where we draw the line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence? What will occur if we keep creating AI at the fast pace that we create them?
For this week’s photograph, it is a neon sign that says “Progress”. I believe this photo emulates what can occur to the progress that we make in technology, that it might look good now, but it can shift to be less progressive and more degenerative, and thus we come to the end of our love story.