When the Robots Come, Will You be Courageous?

Love is inherently tragic. Christ himself, who is the epitome of love, had to lose his life for humanity. This insight calls for two mutually exclusive courses of action. On the one hand, if love is tragic, then you should do well to reduce your tragedy as much as possible by limiting your affection to a few people (and dogs, don't forget the dogs!) One could also go too far with this insight and choose to not love at all. On the other hand, one could embrace love despite its tragedy. The ancient philosophers and poets describe love using terms reserved for forces of nature. Modern science shows us that the effects of "love" are akin to alcohol, but love is not just a feeling. It's an action. A verb. An adverb. And a lot more. This is why its definition is hard to pin down, and its contemporary use is a limited sliver of what love truly is. Thomas Aquinas defined love as "Willing the good of the other," which means that love requires three primary things: a will, a moral mind to understand the "good," and a recipient of all that the will produces. This insight creates a profound question: is the experience of love more important than the receiver of said love?

The question comes for multiple reasons. There is a hard push towards life extension, a growing curiosity about robots and machines experiencing and causing humans to experience human emotions, love included. To take the latter question further, if robots become so good that they fool humans into falling in love with them and acting in such a way that imitates the reciprocation of said love, would the experience of love still be a good thing? In other words, is the type of recipient important as much as the presence of a recipient? I don't think so. In its purest form, love requires only one person to experience this force and for it to be brought into being. It's an individual decision. One chooses to love their spouse even when they don't fit into their college jeans anymore (a deep insight to be found in the now trivialized wedding ceremonies.) Loving one's child is necessary even when your child is not the best. Applying the same thought process here, the experience of loving the artificially intelligent machine, even if deceived, is still a worthwhile and life-enriching experience. It also has to be so if you buy the hypothesis that love is inherently tragic. The realization of the deception or the fact that the machine never loved you is just the form in which the tragedy manifests.

On the life-extension question, I am mostly curious. How much will love change if we do get to live longer? Although my views will, no doubt, change, I believe if humans embrace this force, coupled with long life, they increase the chance that they get to experience true love that grows from struggle, which I believe only comes through monogamy (but that's beyond the scope of this piece.)

Interestingly, embedded in that last paragraph is the idea of "true love." This adjective is necessary because of the presence of counterfeits. Counterfeits here specifically refer to improperly ordered or identified love. Specifically, things like lust, obsession, the now all too common bounce from one partner to another, and the like.The reality of counterfeits clues us into three things. The first is that there is a market for the original product. The second is that there is also a market for its counterfeit. Thirdly, the inauthentic experience relies on the presence of the actual product. For example, the way people react to counterfeit bills is similar to sacrilege. Interpreting the bill as the lesser form of the original. Meaning the existence of the counterfeit is entirely dependent on the presence of the original.

Overall, this author is by no means done with the exploration of such a topic. On the contrary, this is just the beginning. But, at this stage in the process, I believe embracing love and its tragedy is courageous. Because one cannot experience joy without sadness or satiety without hunger, it has to be the case that the tragedy embedded in love is a necessary part of the experience of love. In the courage to love a person, one unlocks new aspects of their character only brought forth by living out that experience.


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