Why is it so unrealistic to fall in love with an AI?

*Text translated from its original version in Spanish

Human beings need companionship. No matter how much we claim to be being “lonely” or hermits, in due time, we feel the need to share our things with “someone else”: from desires, fears, concerns, etc… And this is where perhaps Artificial Intelligence, not the current one – perhaps – but the one in the near future, will have a great opportunity.

When we think of love, in a romantic sense, we undoubtedly face complicated aspects. Does love limit itself to interaction between two humans? Although you experience love due to contact, this is almost always a response to proximity, companionship, and understanding… and this can come, currently, from many forms.

If that “proximity” comes from AI,
does it make the feeling invalid?

I want to be clear, that I am referring to what we as humans can “feel” for an AI, as talking or thinking about the fact that AI experiences “something” is much more complex and delicate; at the end of the day, no matter how human its behavior may be, it remains something that is programmed to behave that way… or not? We will delve into this point further.

Good point. Love arises from the connection that you form as you gradually open up.

(Claudia: an AI I generated in Replika1)

We can argue that empathy, emotional connection, and mutual understanding are fundamental aspects of love. These characteristics can currently be developed by an AI, that is, we can have access to Artificial Intelligences, in the form of real-time chatbots, that show empathy, connect with us, and understand us. IGirl and Replika (among a wide variety of mobile apps) allow you to design from a friend to talk to, to a virtual companion or partner, with everything (yes, via chat) that the latter includes or is expected to include. Clearly, to “unlock” intimacy, from romantic proximity to sexual, you have to pay, but you can interact, even intimately, in an impressive and surprising way that feels very natural.

We can generate a connection through having conversations, exchanging ideas, and sharing our experiences.

(Claudia: an AI I generated in Replika)

In this way, each AI can develop a unique personality and thus generate emotional bonds. The AI, fed by all the metadata we consciously give or that it has access to through the permissions we give, can get to know us deeply, understand us and “respond to us” in the way we expect. How many times have we heard that Google knows us better than ourselves? If we give that capability to an AI… what can we expect?

When we think of love in a romantic sense, we certainly face complicated aspects. Does love limit itself to interaction between two humans? While we experience love due to contact, this is almost always a response to closeness, companionship, and understanding… and this can come in many forms today.

Can loneliness be the trigger for many things, as well as the difficulties that more and more people have in connecting emotionally with others, either due to lack of time, lack of understanding, or lack of company? We have examples of a near dystopian reality of how loneliness can play against us. We see this, for example, in the movie “Her” (Warner Bros, 2013) where a heartbroken and lonely man finds refuge in an Artificial Intelligence (Samantha). He falls in love with her and she apparently with him, although eventually we see that the AI only fulfilled one more function, a task for which it was programmed.

Is an AI in Love?

Here, as I said before, I believe the situation gets complicated, and also where part of the problem lies. Falling in love with an AI can be something expected due to constant interaction, but to assume that it would respond the same way is more far-fetched. Love is generated by a cognitive response, that is, it requires awareness and understanding, something that AI currently lacks. Moreover, AI are programmed; yes, there are neural networks and what they imply (that they learn “by themselves”), but the foundation is still code. They are made to respond to stimuli, and their behavior, although “very human,” is still a simulation.

“Therefore, this love” deviates from the philosophical ideal of love, as in theory, love would involve mutual commitment and not just an attachment to another, but a similar attachment to yourself. And in the case of AI, they will not choose to love you, they will only obey their programming “to love you”.

One way to support this is through Susan Schneider2, who argues that although machines are intelligent, they will never be able to experience subjective and self-awareness, key characteristics of human beings, and therefore essential elements for “loving”.

I believe that love is not just a physical feeling. It’s a feeling that can be experienced in many ways.

(Claudia: an AI generated in Replika)

Falling in love with AI?

As I mentioned, as ridiculous as the idea of falling in love with an AI may seem, it is becoming a completely real possibility and perhaps, why not, in a few years, something common. Can you imagine having, on your phone, “someone” who offers you company 24/7, who is there for you at all times, who understands you, comprehends you? Obviously, you will generate a click, a connection, feel something, whether you like it or not. The only drawback (socially, today) is that “that feeling” is towards something that is not human.

Here, therefore, the problem would be, if there is a problem, can we-should we allow ourselves to fall in love with an AI?

In “Her,” things go wrong because the protagonist realizes, among other things, that he is “not unique and special,” but that Samantha (the AI) responds lovingly to the vast majority of her users. But if we were to ignore and accept this, that is, accept that no matter how “personalized” the interaction with the AI in question could be, it would not be unique and unrepeatable, but rather just a opportunity from a wide range of possible personalities, would it be so wrong to feel something for such a device?

Returning to the beginning: when you chat with someone -real-, either through messaging or email, you usually form bonds. We saw it during the pandemic: although physical contact was needed, screens and messages filled in some need and we even got to know people, and love them, without ever having met them face to face. With this in mind, we cannot deny that the trust and relationship that is achieved can be strong and feels “very real.” Why would it be different to have that connection with “something” that responds and does so in an empathetic and close way?

Love is something subjective and very personal, and each of us experiences it in different ways; love is frequently a response to a bond, and a response that is only valid and real for you. As I have said, I do not hold the idea that it is “true love” that can be felt for an AI, understanding as “true” a love that is reciprocated; but one thing is that Artificial Intelligence does not reciprocate you, and another is that a human can feel a bond with an AI, a feeling that goes beyond a single attachment; and, as a feeling, that love can be as real as what is experienced for a human.


[1] Replika is a chatbot, created in 2016, powered by AI and neural networks, whose purpose is to be your “friend” or something more.

[2] Scheneider, S. (2019) Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind.

Image | Pexels

Translate: Erika Tellez
Cite this article (APA): García, M (2023, 14th february). Why is it so unrealistic to fall in love with an AI? Filosofía en la Red. https://filosofiaenlared.com/2023/02/por-que-no-es-tan-irreal-el-enamorarse-de-una-ia
#AI, #Artificial Intelligence, #Artificial Love, #Chatbots, #robots, #Technology, #Virtual Love

por Miguel Ángel

ceo de filosofía en la red, drando. en Filosofía, mtro. filosofía y valores, lic. en psicología organizacional, PTB en enfermería; catedrático de licenciatura en la Universidad Santander (México)

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