03 Jul Artificial Life (I Mean ‘Wife’)
Artificial Life Wife
[The following is from an article in the excellent quarterly magazine Salvo, a review of culture from a Biblical Worldview perspective. If you’re a thinker and want a solid periodical that stays current with trends in Society, Sex, & Science check out Salvo.
[The article is titled Artificial Wife by Regis Nicoll & appears in the Summer 2012 issue]
It begins . . .
In 1985, Teddy Ruxpin became the world’s first animated toy that could talk. For many children whose real parents were devoted to “quality time” parenting, the cuddly bear served as a virtual parent, reading stories, singing songs, and expressing affection to them.
A generation later, artificial intelligence (Al) engineer Douglas Hines has unveiled “Roxxxy,” a life-size doll that can also talk and express affection, but with a difference.
Roxxxy, as the name implies, is a triple-X-rated, anatomically correct robot, or “sexbot.” Created to learn an owner’s likes and dislikes, the 5′ 7″, 120-pound doll is the most interactive of its kind to date. Says Hines, Roxxxy, is “a companion. She has a personality. She hears you. She listens to you. She speaks. She feels your touch. She goes to sleep.”‘
This is not your uncle’s Teddy Ruxpin.
Later in the article he writes –
David Levy is an Al expert who predicts that, within the next forty years, marriages between humans and androids will be legally recognized. His prediction is based on his read of history.
Levy notes that, whereas “one hundred years ago, interracial marriage and same-sex marriages were illegal in the United States,” the former has been “legal now for 50 years” and the latter is recognized in six states.4 By assuming a rational and moral equivalence between interracial marriage and so-called same-sex marriage, although none exists, Levy is able to extrapolate to the next taboo-breaking advance: “There has been this trend in marriage where each partner gets to make their own choice of who they want to be with. The question is not if [man-machine marriage] will happen, but when.”
And the when, he beams confidently, will come “much earlier than you think.” (If so, I predict that the advance will be preceded by the push for a new class of protected citizens: “Technosexuals”—persons whose sexual preference is for androids.)
I sense a raised eyebrow from folks trusting in the guardrails of common sense and collective reason—wide-eyed souls like me, who, little more than a decade ago, could never have imagined that same-sex “marriage” would be seriously entertained, much less legally recognized.
Yet, once marriage is accepted as a social convention rather than a natural institution, there is no basis for excluding any union that man can conceive of. “Well, what’s the harm with that?” someone is sure to ask.
Then Nicoll says . . .
Marriage is innate to our humanness, patterned after the most basic and visible feature of human nature—the hand-in-glove architecture of sexuality designed specifically for procreation. By design, marriage is the most natural of all human institutions; by function, it is the most essential, serving as the foundation for the building blocks of society.
The matrimonial covenant, uniting a man and a woman in a lasting bond, is uniquely suited to create stable families—in which children are attached to their biological parents, who, intrinsically, have their best interests at heart—and to safeguard society from the pathologies produced by non-marital sex (like divorce, STDs, and out-of-wedlock births).
Marriage affirms the dignity of man as a moral agent who is endowed with procreative powers and the ability to reserve those powers for the common good in a life-welcoming, life-nurturing union. It embodies a moral norm essential to both the well-being of children and a well-ordered society.
This moral norm, however, offends the sensibilities of individuals who self-identify according to their sexual desires (homosexual, bisexual, transgendered) rather than their human design (male, female). Such individuals view marriage, with its moral norm, as an affront to their personhood. In their way of thinking, marriage invalidates them as persons because it prevents their desires from receiving social validation. Their solution: replace the institution with a convention that gives primacy not to truth, but to the acknowledgement and affirmation of a particular identity group.
What for convenience I will call “convention marriage” is a denial of human nature and an attack on man’s dignity. It denigrates man by reducing him to a stimulus-response organism driven by the pursuit of sensual satisfaction. Infinitely malleable to accommodate any type or number of partners, this kind of so-called marriage is not about promoting the well-being of children but the well-feeling of adults.
These are some excerpts from the article that is well worth the read. Sadly, it only appears in the print version, not their online issue which only has a handful of articles from each quarterly issue.