Is it possible to love a machine? I don’t mean sexually or romantically – we’ll come back to that later.
I have for many years (over sixteen) had a love affair of sorts with Apple computers. My first was a clamshell iBook, and since then I have had three MacBook Pros and one Mac Pro. They’re aesthetically perfect, engineered to last, have a UNIX-type operating system and… they’re not Windows PCs. I’m an enthusiastic programmer, and UNIX systems are wonderfully free and flexible in comparison to Windows.
For me, the Mac has aesthetics, familiarity, and even a friendly personality. As a concept, it’s easy to love.
But what if I walk into a shop and there are, say, a hundred Macs of various types laid out waiting to be admired? Do I love all of them? Well, yes, because it’s the concept I love rather than an individual instance. The concept is special, the instances are not.
On the other hand, if I buy one and take it home, it becomes special. Special because it is mine, because I am the one who controls it and has the administrator’s password, because I customise it, choose the desktop background, fill the hard drive with my music, install all the applications I need… It has a value now beyond what its identical brothers in the shop have.
Specialness is important. We desire what is special. This is a very possessive form of love.
We treasure the special things we possess and guard them jealously. We lust for the special things we don’t possess. Especially beautiful women. Especially wealthy men. State-of-the-art automotive engineering. Ferrari and Helen of Troy. Rolls Royce and Cleopatra.
What then of sexbots? And, no, I’m still not talking about sex and romance. But make ‘her’ aesthetically beautiful, and engineered to perfection, and programmed to interact in a very user-friendly way, then as a machine it would be difficult not to admire her.
But to go further and make her your possession, obedient to you and only you, with eye colour and hair style and so on and so forth all chosen by you, her clothes bought for her by you, her likes and skills and all her preferences carefully selected by you… why, then she is special.
She is yours. How can you not love her? (At least until a new model comes out.)
It’s not about sex or romance – at least, not necessarily – but it is about admiration and affection and possessing something special.