A student once asked me, “Can an AI ever love?”
Since the early days of AI, people have wondered whether AI can ever be conscious or feel emotions. Even though an artificial general intelligence may be centuries away, these are important questions.
But I consider them philosophical questions rather than scientific questions. That’s because love, consciousness, and feeling are not observable. Whether an AI can diagnose X-ray images at 95 percent accuracy is a scientific question; whether a chatbot can convince (or “fool”) an observer into thinking that it has feelings is a scientific question.
But whether it can feel is a question best left to philosophers and their debates. Or to the Tin Man, the robot character in The Wizard of Oz who longs for a heart only to learn that he had one all along.
Even if we can’t be sure that an AI will ever love you, I hope you love AI, and also that you have a happy Valentine’s Day!