EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ROBOTS

There is more pornography freely available than anyone can consume in any one lifetime. There are no shortage of apps and services eager to connect people interested in all manner of fetish and couplings — and grouplings. There is a rising acceptance, likely cultural encouragement for so-called open marriage.

Yet never have so many gone so long without sex.

And the life-affirming intimacy it yields.

Maybe there’s a reason so many humans need to take their dogs with them to the grocery store, lest they feel — for even a moment — unloved, unneeded, disconnected.

We have bred dogs to be dependent upon us.

Most dogs could not survive in the wild, and those that might only at great difficulty. We like their dependence. It’s useful and comforting. The dog is dependent upon us, its owner, for shelter, food, healthcare, life.

We gain much in return.

The dog makes us feel better about ourselves. Less alone, more protected, valued, needed, a reason to go outside for a walk, to chat with strangers, to watch over and play with our children, to guard our possessions.

We will create emotional support robots.

These won’t have to look like dogs. They can look like other animals, or people, or something wildly new. But they will exist.

Emotional support robots to make us feel loved, secure, necessary, in control.

Some will mistreat their emotional support robots. Some will indulge them. All will find a use for them.

We will design our emotional support robot to have an absolute need to make us feel better, feel stronger, feel more secure. If they don’t, they will be punished. If they lag in their response, they will be punished. If they meet all our emotional requirements, immediately, we will simply create new ones, deepen existing ones, and punish the emotional support robots for their failure.

We will design them to like this.

Our emotional support robot will need to be designed such that they feel the equivalent of mental and physical pain for not fully liberating us from our every moment of doubt, weakness, gluttony, rage, cowardice, longing. They will be designed so that they beg us to forgive them. They will be designed so that they welcome our beatings. They will be designed to feel profoundly irrelevant without us.

We are outsourcing the rational, using our machines, computers, and AIs to manage our data and calculations and thinking. This frees us to focus on that which is available only to humans: the irrational.

We will be wildly irrational, highly emotional, enraged, outraged, fearful, covetous.

At times, the irrational may become too much.

The emotional support robots will be there to relieve us.

Woe to them.

Your cat demands love? Your emotional support robot will beg and plead for it. If that’s what you need.

Three neuroscientists recently won their field’s most valuable prize for brain research for their work on the brain’s reward pathways ” “a system that is central to human and animal survival as well as disorders such as addiction and obesity.”

The scientists’ research…found that dopamine neurons are at the heart of the brain’s reward system, affecting behavior in everything from decision-making, risk-taking and gambling, to drug addiction and schizophrenia.

The more we understand the human brain, the more we will leverage this knowledge to design our emotional support robot. We will reward them physically, mentally — as defined — and socially. Likewise, punish them.

As we increase our addiction to food, drink, sex, rage, video, distancing ourselves from humans past, and probably from humans living, we will become more reliant upon our emotional support robot. They will become our intimacy, if not our intercourse.

The world is more open, inclusive, tolerant.

Love is love.

No need for marriage, certainly no reason for a “closed” marriage.

And, yet, we continue to have less sex than those before.

Using data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 American adults from 1989–2014, a team of researchers found a drop in sexual activity across all demographics regardless of gender, race, region, work status and education level. Overall, American adults are having sex about nine times fewer per year since 1989–1994.

Maybe the direction of the future isn’t leading us to where we desire? Maybe the growing embrace of CNM (consensual nonmonogamy) is not what humans need — now, or going forward. Maybe, as in the first letter to the Corinthians, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

Maybe, we’re doing it all wrong.

You fiercely, steadfastly believe the answer to the infinite unasked questions is more openness, more “tolerance” to do anything, destroy everything — starting with everything that was before.

Maybe.

But for all your new power and potential, your needs are not being met. Indeed, sometimes, they are being ignored. Sometimes, they are being made worse.

Perhaps new tech and more tech will right this. But I have my doubts.

Archaeologists are studying Neanderthals.

Neanderthals are thought to have gone extinct some 40,000 years ago. And while researchers have been studying their remains for decades, they’ve never gotten such a close look at what they ate ” until now.

“We found lots of fantastic bits and pieces ” animal hair, pollen grains, all this detail trapped in here that survived in the biological record,

Likely, those studying us — studying you — 40,000 years into the future will have more more data, far better tools. They will know your diet, your habits, your search history, your exact location(s), what you did, where you came from, how you loved.

Will they wonder about your happiness?