Published date: Friday, 12 February 2016

When Sparks Fly: Artificial Intelligence and Valentine's Day

With the success of recent films like Her, Ex Machina or Chappie, Artificial Intelligence has grabbed cultural attention not simply because it is a science fiction phenomenon, but also because filmmakers and theorists have started analysing the social impacts of artificial intelligence in everyday life.

But, as we approach Valentine’s Day, headlines have started asking, can you fall in love with a Computer? Will the Turing Test become the biggest test in a relationship? If a computer can drive a car, drive a train, or land a plane, surely it knows exactly how to become an emotionally engaging and reassuring presence.

What sort of place does AI have in love and romance? Films like Spike Jonze’s Her deal with this question in beautifully accessible and heartbreaking ways (so too does his fantastic 2010 short film, I’m Here), showing how even machine learning can bring about wondrous and meaningful relationships.  This isn’t too far away from reality– already there are moves to let robots create art and fall in love. TV shows like Humans on Channel 4 show where this may logically end up, with Artificial Intelligence getting to a cognitive stage of dissecting ideas of morality and ethics.

Looking towards more real-world impacts, AI has already had software applications that have helped us fall in love. The Blinq Dating App for example has started using Artificial Intelligence to judge ‘hotness’: no longer will people be able to use deception and carefully crafted photos to bag a date, now the machine will decide how attractive they are. Of course, the subjective nature of beauty has seemingly gone out the window. How far can this go? How long will it be before Artificial Intelligence be able to predict not only compatibility, but also relationship longevity? Number of potential children? Economic prospects of couples? It seems that with the right data any prediction is possible.