Robots can’t replace human love, laughter and touch

17 May 2018 - 09:24
By thabiso mahlape AND Thabiso Mahlape
Robots can’t replace human love, laughter and touch.
Image: STOCK IMAGE Robots can’t replace human love, laughter and touch.

What do we stand to gain in a world where our very humanness is out of date?

Thabiso MahlapeAnyone who has ever tried watching movies with me knows that I will not watch anything futuristic, or science fictional. Those kinds of things just don’t interest me. I want to watch drama, comedy and romance, basically anything whose focus is intrinsically human.

So, I have been quite hesitant to get involved in the excitement at the advancement of artificial intelligence; basically the imitation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. There’s nothing about robots and the likes that excite me, the possibility of machines taking over, especially in some industries, where they would make the human force redundant.

Sure, there are some elements that are quite enjoyable now as things stand, like GPS, even though I would much rather have someone tell me to take the third left instead of in 300 metres turn right as though my naked eye knows what a metre is. And some of these things you get at adult shops are quite innovative and fun. The foundation of many a household rests on these innovations.

But, what does this look like in the future? I don’t think many of us actually know, except that it includes the possibility of a robot helping you when you get to the immigration desk of a country you are visiting, or perhaps one in your kitchen preparing meals and helping your child with homework. These aren’t possibilities I am thrilled about to be honest.

Ma Yun, known professionally as Jack Ma, is a Chinese business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate. Also, not the kind of fellow I usually follow, but I came across an interesting article on him post a seminar in Davos earlier this year on artificial intelligence.

My imagined impact of this, and Jack Ma agrees, is that it will get to a point where it makes humans, in some industries, out-of-date. Now this is what really scares me. What do we stand to gain in a world where our very humanness is out of date?

This is not something we are going to be able to stop, it is just a matter of time. Our children are at a high risk of living lives characterised by interrupted human connections. What then do we do in raising our children to cushion them against this affecting them?

Where I think we start is by practising, daily, a life that shows and reminds them what it is to be human. Through love, laughter, treatment of sorrow and touch we teach them the things that cannot be replaced by anything other than a human.

I mean, don’t teach children this yet but, no gadget could ever replace the feeling of an orgasm shared with another sweaty body.

Teach children the look of human emotion, how to nurture it and heal it when it seems broken.

There is the very real chance that this worry I have developed lately isn’t one you share, I live with anxiety and so I am always worried about things that may never happen. Or maybe they will happen and we will adapt and be okay, I’m just never allowing a robot to cook my meals... If that floats your boat, though, I wish you a happy future.