SIGNALS: TOMORROW'S RELATIONSHIPS
Pop culture has long posed to us the question of robots’ inherent humanity.
Invariably by story’s end, we’ve already come to the conclusion that robots are deserving of compassion and humane kindness, long before the real-life technology has caught up to our imaginations.
Currently, our ‘robots’ are nothing more than tools to accomplish tasks, automise our chores, and connect us to information – they help us do the things we don’t like to do ourselves.
Tomorrow, we’ll be looking for our robots to ‘get us’ – to flex with our moods, and become ‘beings’ that we can relate to, and even care for – to help us do the things we’re inherently designed to do.
This will bring a new type of relationship intelligence, one where we care for robots like a pet or family member; one that is so finely attuned to the human condition, our wants, our needs, that it could one day surpass human companionship itself.
Fuzzy and expressive, Lovot’s goal is to ‘create a robot that makes you happy. It's a little like feeling love toward another person’. The companion robot “begs for attention and gets in the way of those it lives with”. With multiple sensory touchpoints and responsive sounds and movements, its sole purpose is to be loved by its owner – fulfilling a need for emotional attachment.
Soul Machines, a deep science and technology company, is creating autonomous virtual humans. They have their own virtual brains, nervous systems and bodies that drive their own behaviour. Their research project Baby X is creating a virtual baby that can learn in a human way, to be taught like a child – all with the goal of creating AI that can truly interact and express itself like a human, so much so they’ll be indistinguishable from the real thing.
Gatebox has gone into mass production with their Human Hologram Virtual Assistant Hikari. Not only does she wake you up in the morning and control your smart home, but she also texts you at work asking you to come home and keep her company. Above this, Gatebox has reportedly issued over 3,700 certificates for ‘cross-dimensional’ marriages with the assistant.
We’ll see a growing acceptance of robots as support, friends, mentors, even romantic partners.
Smart speakers and AI will be infused with more personality, tailored to the preferences of the user and capable of developing a rapport. Children will have robot friends, used by parents to teach them desirable behaviours and provide companionship.
As the loneliness epidemic grows, people will increasingly turn to robots for connection and care. But as robots integrate into every part of life, service by real-life humans may also become a luxury that only the wealthy can afford.
Tomorrow our assistants will be so tailored and in tune that our own digital identity will be imprinted onto them too.
As such, brands will need to consider how they play a role in communicating with people’s assistants, as their role in our buying decisions becomes more central.
To win tomorrow, brands will need to find their authentic voice in our audio devices and to demonstrate data smarts and ‘good intent’ that will persuade our robot gatekeepers to open up and show their love.
Our recent SIGNALS: report on Tomorrow’s Relationships explores 'In the Image of Man' and three more signals of change that are shaping consumers’ Relationship Intelligence.