For your Friday future-break, here is a lovely short film by Dennis Sungmin Kim, exploring a future in which artificial intelligence has been supplemented by “artificial emotion.”
Before you dismiss it as beautiful, but speculative, fiction, consider this: Pepper the “emotional support robot” is already on the market, programmed to read emotions and facial expressions, and to learn and grow as it interacts with people. When Pepper went on sale last year, the thousand units made available by SoftBank Robotics sold out within one minute. And while it (he? she?) has particularly powerful artificial intelligence (AI) powering its empathetic interactions, Pepper is only one of a number of therapy robots under development.
So at some point in the future, we are going to have to grapple with the issues raised in Kim’s animated fable–when does AI become sufficiently “I” to count as an autonomous being? The UK Office of Science and Innovation already foresees a day when robots demand the same rights as humans, including the right to love freely.