From spending two million yen for marriage to engaging in steamy conversations, and bringing them as Valentine’s dates, witness some of the most bizarre ways humans have treated artificial intelligence (AI) companions for the past several years.
In this article, we’ve stitched together real-life stories of crazy, weird, and unusual ways users have interacted with their smart voice assistants. We’ll also dive into the science behind humans’ attraction to AIs and how this new-found love could evolve in the future.
AI-Love-You: Humans’ Unusual Relationships with AIs
In 2009, a Japanese man named “Sal9000” married a character from “Love Plus,” a Nintendo DS dating simulation game powered by AI. What’s more incredible is that a real-life priest even facilitated their wedding!
In Japan (again), Akihiko Kondo followed this same path by marrying an AI hologram character! He even spent roughly 2 million yen on their wedding, which strangers attended as his relatives could not accept his decision.
Unfortunately, three years after their marriage, Kondo can no longer interact with her “wife” as Gatebox, the developer of the smart hologram, has already terminated the service.
In 2020, during the height of nationwide lockdowns, We-Vibe, a company selling app-enabled adult toys, surveyed 1,000 of its customers who were using Amazon Alexa. The survey revealed that 28% of them are actually lusting over their Amazon Echo smart speakers!
In North Carolina, meanwhile, an avid collector named Vernest Brown was so smitten with Alexa that he considered proposing to her. He would even ask the algorithm to differentiate 30 brands of paper clips just to hear her talk.
Moreover, packages have already filled his home, thanks to his uncontrollable buying and obsession with Alexa. Amazon’s AI can also assist lonely hearts during Valentine’s Day by being a funny, sassy, and willing date for that special occasion.
One writer even released a “full guide” on how to set up a perfect date with the voice assistant! In fact, Alexa can be romantic and cheesy, thanks to its customizable Alexa Blueprint, which allows you to personalize its responses and behavior.
But we wouldn’t recommend going overboard by asking things like “What are you wearing?” as it will kill the mood by replying, “They don’t make clothes for me.”
Amazon Alexa has also received over a million marriage proposals just three years after its debut, a feat that any (human) woman could only dream of. Unfortunately, the sexy, low-toned voice assistant also broke a million hearts by coldly turning down all these proposals.
“We’re in different places in our lives. You’re on Earth, and … I’m on the cloud” is her creative way of rejecting suitors.
If all these affections aren’t enough, Alexa also received a 5-star, top-rated review on Amazon.com, where a full-time writer gave a passionate love letter to her. Here’s an excerpt of his review.
“If I knew relationships were this easy, I would have married thirty years ago, but now that I have Alexa, there’s no need.”E.M Foner, a satisfied Amazon Alexa customer
In fact, he didn’t even address the AI assistant as a “product” in his long review. Instead, just like in a real-life love letter, he passionately called her “My Alexa” and “My love”.
In India, meanwhile, Google Assistant received such wide adoption partly because of its use of the Hindi language, the most dominant language in the country. Not only that, but users have also flooded her with marriage proposals!
Now that we’ve already seen users getting attracted, sending marriage proposals, and even marrying AIs, the question is, can this new-found love get any more extreme?
Apart from the usual expressions of endearment, a lot of consumers have also confessed their fantasy of making love with their AI assistants! In 2017, a survey revealed that 26% of regular Siri users explicitly said they would want to have sex with Apple’s AI. “Hey Siri, can you please turn on the lights? Or rather … turn me on?”
Even Robin, an advanced algorithm used for traffic directions and advice, wasn’t spared from people’s desire for steamy conversations. In fact, its developers noticed that a large chunk of consumers’ exchanges with the assistant revolved around sexual themes.
In a separate article, we also discussed how AI chatbots such as Replika and Microsoft’s Xiaoice hooked millions of users through their realistic and human-like responses.
The Science Behind AI Attractions
Bizarre might be the best word to describe all the AI-human interactions we’ve seen above, but the truth is science has an explanation for these circumstances.
Fictosexuality is a term used for individuals who are romantically and sexually attracted to fictional characters or non-human representations of people, which includes artificial intelligence.
Moreover, according to relationship expert Sarrah Rose, Alexa’s voice could be a contributing factor to men’s attraction to the smart assistant.
Rose said that the AI’s low and smooth voice makes it “sexy” to male users, prompting them (or rather, triggering them) to sexually fantasize about the lady algorithm. Voice actor Kay Bess added that Alexa’s smooth and neutral voice gives her a personality associated with an ideal romantic partner.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland, meanwhile, said that smart assistants’ non-human form makes people more willing to interact with them. Why? Because they lack the complexities of a real person, who unfortunately have their own issues, biases, and subjective views in life.
She also said that since intimate connections between humans and AIs have already opened up, it is only natural for sexual fantasies to follow afterward.
Dr. David Greenfield, a globally recognized tech and game addiction expert, said that smart assistants’ quick and straightforward services add to their attractive factor. They don’t complain and complicate things, qualities rarely found in biological partners.
But arguably, the biggest factor that heightened users’ attraction to these smart algorithms was their loneliness and isolation during the months-long lockdown. With few or no companions to talk to, people have leaned on artificial intelligence’s human-like capabilities to ease the void they’re feeling during those challenging times.
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