In an excellent lecture last week on George Simmel’s essay Die Großstädte und das Geistesleben, my professor presented Simmel’s theory that the meaningful interpersonal relationships found in rural societies cannot be replicated in metropolises. Simmel argues that the sheer number of available relationship options coupled with urban anonymity overwhelm city dwellers. Effects on the individual are devastating – pretty heady and prophetic given that the article was published in 1903.
With this still bumping around in my brain, a short blurb in the Sunday paper about the Chatbot Replika and current beliefs regarding AI caught my eye. In a recent German survey 21% of respondents believe that human/AI romances will be possible in the future – of that group 25% set the realization timeline at 10 years.
If the plethora of relationship options back in 1903 was already overwhelming, what does the future bode when we add anthropomorphic AIs into the mix?