I’m not talking today about the West Virginia Lesbian Couple who got harassed and berated by the clerk tasked with approving their marriage license with a three minute biblical-law anti-gay rant, later deemed acceptable behavior by her supervisor. Our current society is mephitic with efforts to circumvent the spirit of civility in order that members of our community can disparage, deride or even harm other members of it. The human species so often either doesn’t know how to have manners or compassion, or doesn’t care enough to. Given I like large cooperative civilizations, this saddens me.
At the time the news came to me, I was writing about the whole Cortana / Sex-bot subject, noting the Spike Jonze movie Her (2013, Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson) that I have not seen. It discusses the same notions I had covered. In Her a lonely introvert falls in love with his digital-assistant operating system. Her includes a dead cat joke that makes me think Jonze couldn’t take sexuality very seriously, so I’m not sure I’m going to see it.
And there’s a rising moral panic about the dangers of flirty or interactive personal assistants, and some confusion between learning systems and voice command recognition and enhanced search engines, and what should have human rights or human respect (human beings, for now), and what is going to start the robot uprising (no hostile one is expected), and what is going to cause society to become more anti-social than it already is. (All of them, one can only hope.)
We suck at being social, and maybe we need machines to filter our bullshit, to teach us not to be dicks, or just to remove the need to deal with people who can’t help but throw their poop around.
Right now I see a number of uses for full-on digital companions:
~ We can give people who are really spiteful and contemptible something to kick around that won’t suffer for it.
~ We can give people who just want to avoid people from the above group a way to get goods and services without having to meddle with human beings, since an awful lot of them seem to feel it’s okay to hate people who are too unlike them.
~ We can give people who really want to know how to interact, to serve, to love, to lead, to help, qualified instruction and practice on how to do these things. Maybe one day most of the human race will be properly humane.
~ We can eliminate human interaction from all places except those specific incidents in which people really want to deal with the human ape.
Because wouldn’t it be great if people could get marriage licenses without having to interact with someone that might spit on them?