Image Courtesy of ARTVEE
By Anthony Dryden
This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tower.
There are many ways in which our lives are vastly different from previous generations. The advancement of technology seems to be a never-ending process in which the fantasies of yesterday become realities soon enough. One of these fantasies slowly becoming alarmingly real is A.I. companions. These A.I. companions are starting to make their way into the mainstream consciousness. They are becoming a viable option for the lonely (mostly male) population to participate in some sort of relationship. The question then arises: where did this phenomenon stem from, and where will it go?
Let us dive into the history of A.I. companions. Now, it is no secret that we live in the midst of a massive loneliness epidemic that particularly affects young men. Many would place this oddity’s origins with the pandemic. However, I would disagree with this theory. I believe the stem of this loneliness epidemic is the rise of the internet, specifically pornography.
The rise of the internet has allowed for what is called the “three A’s,” that is, accessibility, affordability, and anonymity. Anonymous access to free graphic content has warped the minds of many Americans. The effects of it have harmed everything in our brains, including how one interacts with the opposite sex, marriage, and much more.
As with any other addiction, one becomes numb to minimal stimulation. Soon, the addicted search for other methods to satisfy their need. The next step would be something with real interaction. Thus, people have, particularly in the 80’s and 90’s, turned to phone lines designed specifically for explicit uses. More recently, people turned to “OnlyFans” in search of a more personal connection. Now, with more and more A.I. companions coming out, many of these lonely people are turning to them for an even more controlled and curated experience.
So, what does the future of these A.I. companions look like? I believe that in the near future there will be A.I. automatons to provide an even more personal experience to the misguided. Just as there is a whole industry around pornography, it is not hard to imagine an industry for A.I. automatons designed to reduce human interaction, whether directly or indirectly specifically.
In the end, A.I. companions and all that have preceded it are contrary to nature. As St. Augustine reminds us, “God created man as one individual; but that did not mean that he was to remain alone” (City of God 502). By our nature, we are social creatures. A.I. companions cannot substitute the satisfaction we get when we are with other people.
As we have mentioned before (for many reasons), many no longer understand how to interact with the opposite sex. This unfortunate reality is a frightening detriment to us. The family is the social cornerstone of any functioning society, not the individual. Family requires us first to know how to properly relate with the opposite sex, then receive the sacrament of holy matrimony, and then raise a family. All of this one cannot do with an A.I. companion.
The mystery and sanctity of marriage is something that cannot be replaced. “Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6 DRB). Marriage aids the development of patience, charity, humility, and self-sacrifice. Two people are helping each other in sanctification, bettering one another, and protecting the next generation. Interaction necessarily entails two rational human beings. The goods involved in human relationships and marriage cannot be replicated with an A.I. companion. A relationship cannot be built on the foundation of one rational creature and one who can only crudely replicate rationality. This is the danger that A.I. poses to modern relationships, a danger we should become more aware of.