Posted in Psychology

Valentine’s Day Post: Love Story of Humans and Computers

“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.

her-joaquin-phoenix-on-a-date-660x330
Screenshot from the movie “Her”

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.

ericahumanoidrobot
Erica demonstration Video Link

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.

The End.

 

References:

CGTN (2015, August 6). Talking with a beautiful robot girl Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSz7WU1nH50
Heerink, M., Kröse, B., Evers, V., & Wielinga, B. (2008). The influence of social presence on acceptance of a companion robot by older people. Journal of Physical Agents (JoPha)2(2), 33–40. doi:10.14198/jopha.2008.2.2.05
Jonze, S. (Director). (2013). Her (2013)
Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukophadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist53(9), 1017–1031. doi:10.1037//0003-066x.53.9.1017
McLeod, S. (2009). Attachment theory. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/attachment.html
Ostovar, S., Allahyar, N., Aminpoor, H., Moafian, F., Nor, M. B. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). Internet addiction and its psychosocial risks (depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness) among Iranian adolescents and young adults: A structural equation model in a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction14(3), 257–267. doi:10.1007/s11469-015-9628-0
Quora. Why do humans sometimes get emotionally attached to ordinary inanimate objects? Retrieved February 15, 2017, from https://www.quora.com/Why-do-humans-sometimes-get-emotionally-attached-to-ordinary-inanimate-objects
Shibata, T., & Wada, K. (2011). Robot therapy: A new approach for mental healthcare of the elderly – A Mini-Review. Gerontology57(4), 378–386. doi:10.1159/000319015
Wikipedia (2017a). Nomophobia. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomophobia
Wikipedia (2017b). Tamagotchi effect. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi_effect#Future_Outlook
(N.D.). INMIGRANTS FROM THE FUTURE. Retrieved 15 February 2017, from https://www.emaze.com/@ALOCIFOT/INMIGRANTS-FROM-THE-FUTURE

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Post: Love Story of Humans and Computers

  1. One thing that stood out to me in your post this week was the part about AI for the elderly. I found an article that reviews multiple studies done with AI robots and the elderly. While the article state that a conclusion cannot be made whether or not these improve different disorders the elderly have, there have been many positive outcomes, and no large negative outcomes. The article emphasizes that the AI cannot be sound alone. In order for this to help the elderly they will need movement and expression combined with sound. I think this is a great thing, and could really help a lot of people once more studies and research is done. The article also says there were physiological and socio-psychological positive effects so this is just the beginning of a great thing in my opinion!
    Bemelmans, R., Gelderblom, G. J., Jonker, P., & De Witte, L. (2012). Socially assistive robots in elderly care: A systematic review into effects and effectiveness. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 13(2), 114-120.

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  2. Kassie, reading your interesting and pertinent blog about being infatuated or in a state “similar to love” with a device, gadget, or robot.
    Your interesting blog about how robots may be used by elders with mild dementia and how apps, devices and robots may help with simple tasks to old people or people with some impairments shows a more gentle side of robotic. The dark and scaring side, as you said, of robotic develop may be the probability of the replacement of humans, not only in romantic relationships, but also the potential replacement of humans in mechanical jobs.
    I am a movie person, and some of the movies with this subject emotional human-robot relationship that comes to my mind nor are the Spielberg film -Artificial Intelligence. The story about the temporary ill children replacement. The kid-robot is programmed to have an unlimited and unconditional love to their owners (parents), and also these robots may have a potential therapeutic help during a mother’s grief, or in this case during the children absence. The children-robot remind me the traditional children story Pinocchio, how a unanimated object become “human” or “humanised”, and have the emotional needs of a human children . Another classical movie similar is “The Bicentennial Man” – based in an Asimov novel. The bicentennial Man, performed by Robin Williams, works to become human, just as Pinocchio did.
    Björk – All is Full of Love make me think if sex will be an interchange of information between computers, such as a reminder of what was before?
    The subject of a robot that replaces the beloved partner in a relationship also can be seen in the movie the Surrogates (2009), with Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis wife, who suffers an illness, is confined and replaced by her choice, with a similar android reproduction of her. Ex machina, (2015), in which a robot creator invites a young male programmer to interact with a female robot that was created and programmed with emotional information and possible mate responses. The female robot not only is able to express human emotions and emulate human romantic relationships, she may change the response according with each provided stimulus. The young programmer get infatuated with the android and attribute to the machine human conditions. As several movies, the robot with more available information than it’s creators rebels and fight to have the power. This subject has been used in many science fiction movies that do not include emotional relationships between human and robots.

    As you mentioned robotic programmers have added to their creations the information based in human social interaction, and the related aspects such as the understanding of facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. Lowe et. al. propose that “ the endeavour to imbue in robots emotional processes that enable, and emerge from, interactive processes is so important to adaptive behaviour.” Robots inhabiting human environments need to act in relation to their own experience and embodiment as well as to social and emotional aspects.Lowe, et, al. (2016).

    An important part of human cognitions is the perception of others emotions. Emotions are necessary to process cognitions. Tone of voice, body contact, body and facial expressions. All of these can be simulated by a robot and serve as stimuli to the human. Also, all of these may serve as a input data to robots to create (preprogrammed) responses . All the information that robots have is provided by humans. They can process information and have a humanised response, but never a human response.

    Robert Lowe, Emilia Barakova, Erik Billing, Joost Broekens, (2016). Grounding emotions in robots – An introduction to the special issue. IUSAB.
    vol 24, Issue 5.

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  3. Fascinating blog post. I wonder how attached we are to the glory side of our lives that we post on social media. I found this post (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rediscovering-love/201103/can-love-survive-in-the-age-technology) were the author gives some good advice on how to approach love. It seems to me to be healthy, to focus your love on yourself first and have that strong foundation. It is easy to get lost in a relationship with a person or attachment to something that is in a form other than human. When i say lost i mean that it is easy to forget ourselves. I am glad you brought up the movie her, i really enjoyed that movie.

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