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Jenna Ives: Can Artificial Intelligence Truly Offer Human Companionship?
Friday, October 24th, 2014

Pepper emotional robotMy latest book is a slightly futuristic erotic romance called Programmed To Protect, which revolves around very human police agent Leith Wyatt who falls in love with a Beautiful Doll sex robot named Ginger on a planet called Tau Cetus.

Wyatt and Ginger truly love each other, each in their own way. And together, they manage to save their world from the threat of annihilation.

Ironically, last week my hubby and I were watching a DVD of the movie Her with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. Have you seen it? It’s a powerful story of how humans can project exactly what they need onto another person, or, in this case, a high-tech operating system named Samantha (voiced by Johansson). Joaquin Phoenix was amazing in his very emotional portrayal of a lonely writer who falls in love with an OS.

And recently I read a news report about emotional robots going on sale in Japan next year. A walking, talking robot named Pepper from a company called Softbank has been designed for companionship, and is supposedly capable of reading human emotions. Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son says the aim is to develop “affectionate robots that can make people smile.”

So this seems to be a trend.

But… Can artificial intelligence really offer the kind of companionship that humans crave? The closeness, the intellectual stimulation, the emotional support? It’s definitely what I portray in Programmed To Protect. Ginger was exactly what Wyatt wanted, and Wyatt was exactly what Ginger needed.  Still, my book is a work of fiction.

Could an actual human being be happy with a machine?

I think I was so affected by the movie Her because I could easily see operating systems that are customized to an individual’s needs becoming highly addictive. I mean, just look at how smart phones have already become indispensable to us!

And who wouldn’t desire a cyber best friend or virtual lover who is always there at the touch of a button? No complicated relationships, no messy emotions, just the perfect companion, always available when you want them.

Scary to think that human interactions could someday be considered too much work.

What do you think? Can artificial intelligence really offer valuable human companionship? I’d like to hear your opinions. And I’ll pick one commenter to win an e-book copy of my story Programmed To Protect.

In the meantime, here’s a short excerpt

ProgrammedToProtect 

“Are you really not familiar with Beautiful Doll sexbots?” programmed Titus Veraine asked.

Leith Wyatt hesitated. “Of course I know about them. Everyone does. Or, rather, did, since they’re no longer being manufactured. But I never saw one in person.”

Veraine shook his head. “Damned shame. All the Dolls have been re-commissioned.” He paused, then winked. “Except for a select few.”

Wyatt’s eyebrow went up. “What do you mean ‘a select few’?”

Veraine gave Wyatt a sly smile, and jerked his head for Wyatt to follow him. The two men walked over to what looked like a small utility closet. Gripping the handle of the door, Veraine slowly eased it open.

Wyatt’s mouth literally dropped open at what he saw there. A naked female, eyes closed, obviously a Beautiful Doll. The sexbot had gorgeous red hair that flowed down to caress her creamy white shoulders. Double-D breasts that tempted him to reach out and fill his hands with their lush fullness. Curvy hips that would cradle a man while he sank himself deep inside her. Hell, even her lips were full and pouty, an unspoken invitation if ever Wyatt saw one. The robot screamed sex; he could feel himself responding just at the mere sight of her.

Veraine’s sly smile widened. “This is Ginger. She was Beautiful Dolls’ most popular model.”

Wyatt blinked. Ginger was the most popular model? He could certainly believe it.

“She’s in her hibernation mode right now.” Veraine glanced at the Doll. “Ginger? Say hello to Leith Wyatt.”

The Beautiful Doll slowly opened her eyes, and Wyatt’s jaw dropped even further. The sexbot’s eyes were a deep, emerald green, and had an almost starburst quality to them. They were beautiful.

“Hello, Leith Wyatt,” she purred.

Good God. The sexbot’s voice was a verbal caress, smooth as silk. Those two simple words were an erotic come-on in themselves. Wyatt felt himself get even harder. He threw Veraine a glance, unable to hide his look of amazement.

Veraine laughed, then shrugged. “Hey, I’m working day and night programming soldiers for the High Council. I deserve a little…stress relief.” He glanced down at his watch, then back up at Wyatt. “Listen… I, um, I’m going to go out onto the floor for a few minutes. Yeah. I’ll be back in ten minutes.” He tilted his head toward Ginger, then lowered his voice. “Beautiful Dolls are history, my friend. If you were ever curious about them, you should…indulge…that curiosity while I’m gone. It could be the only chance you’ll ever have.”

Wyatt stared at Veraine, speechless. Was the man actually suggesting that Wyatt have sex with the Doll while Veraine was out on the factory floor?

Veraine gave him that sly smile again. “Ten minutes. I’ll close the door on my way out to give you privacy.” He threw a glance at the sexbot. “Ginger? Why don’t you demonstrate your special brand of fellatio for agent Wyatt while I’m gone?”

“Yes, Titus.”

With that, the programmer turned and left the lab, pulling the door firmly closed behind him.

What the hell—

Trying to rein in his frantic thoughts, Wyatt anxiously turned back to the Doll. Ginger was smiling at him, a sweet smile, exposing perfect white teeth. Damn, she was beautiful, the most beautiful woman he’d ever –

Stop it! She’s not a woman, she’s a machine!

Ginger reached out a hand to grab onto his belt, and then sank gracefully to her knees in front of him.

“Wait…wait!” Wyatt’s panicked words sounded desperate even to his own ears. But what exactly was he desperate for?

Was he desperate to stop her, or desperate to know exactly what she was capable of?

No. This was insane. He couldn’t possibly let her perform fellatio on him, not even her own ‘special brand’ of fellatio, whatever the hell that was, despite the fact he was hard as a rock and very willing to find out.

‘Beautiful Dolls are history. You may never have this chance again.’

Damn Veraine for putting that thought into his head. The sexual skills of a Beautiful Doll were legendary, but Wyatt had often wondered whether the legend was actual truth or just a good marketing ploy.

This was his chance to find out.

“No, no, I can’t.” He had a job to do here. One that certainly did not include a detour for oral sex.

Ginger looked up at him, her perfect smile fading. “If you refuse, Titus Veraine will be angry with me.”

Wyatt paused. Veraine had given her an order, and she was programmed to please.

Before he could figure out the best way to deal with this outrageous situation, Ginger’s grip on his belt tightened, holding him in place, while her other hand slowly but determinedly eased down the zipper of his blue dress pants.

Dear God. The robot Doll had the strength of twenty men. He couldn’t stop her even if he  tried.

‘So don’t try,’ that wicked voice in his head argued.

Wyatt’s body shuddered in surrender, and his eyes rolled back into his head as the Doll’s mouth closed around him.

 

I hope you enjoyed that excerpt from Programmed To Protect!

Many thanks to Delilah for letting me blog today.  Remember to comment on my question: can artificial intelligence offer real human companionship?  I’ll pick a winner at random to win an e-copy of Programmed To Protect.

And if you’d like to know more about me, check out www.jennaives.com or connect with me on Twitter @JennaIvesAuthor or on Facebook http://on.fb.me/1gxFlZn!

Thanks,

Jenna

6 comments to “Jenna Ives: Can Artificial Intelligence Truly Offer Human Companionship?”

  1. Enikö
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    · October 24th, 2014 at 8:37 am · Link

    Oh … looooved the excerpt. New author for me, I have to check out your books. I enjoy reading scifi, especially when some spice is added.

    I think that artificial intelligence could offer companionship and help in certain situations, but not in an emotional way. I would prefer human contact to a machine which maybe can read emotions, but cannot understand them beyond what it is programmed with.



  2. Jenna Ives
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    · October 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am · Link

    Thank you, Eniko! My books, Programmed To Please and Programmed To Protect, handle the human/machine relationship in different ways. I’d be very interested to hear what you think of the stories 🙂

    Jenna



  3. Samanthe Beck
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    · October 24th, 2014 at 1:17 pm · Link

    Hi Jenna,

    Loved the excerpt from Programmed to Protect! It’s a super-sexy premise…engineered perfection designed strictly for pleasure. Do I want to read more? Heck yeah!

    Do I want it in real life? I don’t think so. Part of the thrill of forging an emotional connection with another person is knowing they’re choosing you as much as you’re choosing them. When the attraction is generated by some lines of code instead of sincere interest, it loses something crucial, for me.



  4. Jenna Ives
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    · October 24th, 2014 at 2:20 pm · Link

    Samanthe –
    You make an important and very valid point. But there are some people who might lean toward a relationship with a machine just BECAUSE they don’t have to work at an emotional connection. The machine can be anything you want it to be: lover, friend, etc.

    I think this is a fascinating topic. Thanks for weighing in!

    Jenna



  5. Christine Ashworth
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    · October 24th, 2014 at 9:22 pm · Link

    I can definitely see this happening in the future. Like you say, we’re slaves to our cell phones. I could see us passing people on the street saying, human – robot – robot – human…lol you know? Fun stuff!



  6. Alyssa Kress
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    · October 26th, 2014 at 10:28 am · Link

    I also think this could easily happen. I would hope whoever believes a robot can provide them with companionship would eventually get bored, because part of being human is wanting to struggle. Yes, I think we want to. Otherwise, what have we accomplished? Fascinating question, Jenna!