Human-Robot "Marriage"? The Possibility of the Impossible Union
Mon, 31 Dec 2018 || By Arumdriya Murwani

Stating that humans have experienced a rapid technological advancement in this digital era would be an understatement.  In the last two decades, human has succeeded in developing technologies that would allow computers to simulate human thinking process, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). Furthermore, the development of human-like robots, such as Sophia, has set a new milestone in the robotics sector. Sophia even set the record by being the first robot to be given a citizenship status by Saudi Arabia.[1] This is significant because it allows Sophia to acquire legal acknowledgement as a full human from a country. Such illustration suggests that the rapid development of robots and AIs have the opportunity to alter the way we perceive human-robot interaction. Leading robotics even stated that human could marry robots before the year 2050.[2] Although it seems like something that comes out of science fiction, two issues in 2018 has suggested that this could be our new reality. The first issue is the marriage between men and technology. Recently two men were married to a robot and a hologram in China and Japan—respectively.[3] Moreover, high-technology sex robots have been developed and released to the market. With the advent of such technology, CfDS would like to explore further the possible legal and ethical dimension of such practice.

  1. How could human and robot/technology form a marriage union?

It is believed that robots are still not able to develop their own consciousness. By this, robots are still programmed by a series of systems and commands. However, human has inherent capabilities to form bonds with an inanimate object.[4] Such bond could be illustrated by our affinity towards our childhood toys: our favourite teddy bear, our favorite pillow and so on. In other words, any bond formed between human and robots would likely come from the human side instead of the robots. A marriage between these two entities could emerge from the longing of having a "perfect" partner.

Akihiko Kondo, a 35-years-old Japanese man, tied the knot to a hologram virtual home assistant named "Hatsune Miku" last November. His wife—a "glorified lava lamp" according to some—could perform a primary task that a wife might do: such as morning call, turning the lights on and off depending on where he is, and even giving him romantic texts once in a while.[5] Of course, this all comes without the demand for emotional intimacy, or the possible conflict that could arise between a man and his wife.

  1. What is the legality of such union?

It is not clear if Kondo and Miku's marriage in Japan is legally acknowledged—it is believed that such marriage is not acknowledged before the law.[6] However, seeing that Sophia has managed to get recognition as a legal person in Saudi Arabia has paved ways for future tech to be acknowledged to have legal standing as much as a human in a country. It is not impossible that in the future we can witness a legally binding marriage between men and robots. Some predict that human could legally marry a piece of technology by 2050.[7] Sophia’s creator even predicts that the marriage between human and droids could happen before 2045.[8]  

  1. Would forming relations with an object be good for us as human?

When a robot is programmed to work as human, it might help human to deal with the problem of isolation and loneliness. A robot could be programmed to understand our whims. Considering that it is not a conscious being, they would less likely to create social problems. In other words, a robot could be programmed to help create such a "perfect partner". This feature could help people who has depression and social anxiety not to feel lonely. However, it would affect the way we see human-to-human interaction. Having robots as our partners would mean that we would not have a realistic expectation on how actual human would behave in an interpersonal relationship. This would further isolate people who formed a relationship with robots from their human surrounding.

  1. What does it say about our conception of love?

Having robots as our spouse would allow us to program and modify them as we wish. For example, men who wish to have a spouse that would do more traditional roles—such as cooking and housekeeping—the existence of ubiquitous linked sensors and smart homes has made such task possible. This arguably has objectified our conception of a spouse and allow us to exert total control towards our partners. Indeed, we have developed technologies to reduce uncertainties within our environment in a way of exercising control to those around us. Thus, to eliminate the insecurity and uncertainty in the relationship will also lead humans to have total control towards their robotic spouse. Here is a question arises: what does it say about how human see love?

Editor: Anisa Pratita Mantovani

Read another article written by Arumdriya Murwani


[1]Walsh, A. (2017). Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to robot Sophia .(online). Available at https://www.dw.com/en/saudi-arabia-grants-citizenship-to-robot-sophia/a-41150856. (Accessed 20 December 2018)

[2]Beall, A. (2016). The first robot-human marriage will take place before 2050, as droids become more attractive than humans .(online). Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4051788/The-robot-human-marriage-place-2050-droids-attractive-humans.html  (Accessed 20 December 2018)

[3]Rothkopf, J. (2018). Single? Consider a Cross-Dimensional (Human-Hologram) Marriage.(online). Available at:  https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a25018920/japan-married-hologram-gatebox/. (Accessed 20 December 2018)

[4] Hiebert, P. (2013). A HISTORY OF HUMANS LOVING INANIMATE OBJECTS (online). Available at: https://psmag.com/social-justice/history-humans-loving-inanimate-objects-75192 (Accessed 20 December 2018)

[5]Rothkopf, J. (2018). Single? Consider a Cross-Dimensional (Human-Hologram) Marriage.(online). Available at:  https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a25018920/japan-married-hologram-gatebox/. (Accessed 20 December 2018)

[6] Ibid.,

[7]Beall, A. (2016). The first robot-human marriage will take place before 2050, as droids become more attractive than humans.(online). Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4051788/The-robot-human-marriage-place-2050-droids-attractive-humans.html  (Accessed 20 December 2018)

[8]Keach, S. (2018). Sophia the robot’s creator says humans will MARRY droids by 2045.(online). Available at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/6366262/marry-robots-sophia-harmony-hanson-2045/. (Accessed 20 December 2018)