Thoughts are always fragmented when there are too many good reads and stuff I want to get down to. I am constantly torn between work and tasks that I am required to carry out and all the writing that I want to accomplish. As it is, I am reading multiple printed books at any given time. Thanks to technology , I am also reading multiple articles and essays and carrying out research for work online. I should stay offline if I need to focus on a task. Multitasking is not humanly possible if you want to give your full attention and the best shot in completing a task , yet you like the distraction as you like to hop from one site to another, it is like entering multiverse at the same time.Thanks to technology, I find myself getting impatient as the webpage is loading and I end up applying a lot of pressure on myself and those I interact with, hoping to achieve a desirable result in the shortest time possible. Thanks to technology, I am able to apply my mind and time to several things at the same time and answering texts from different people at any given time, hence it is like thousand pieces of me in multi dimensions. At the end of the day I feel the need to decompress and yet thoughts continue to run wild in my mind. Thoughts are articulated in words thus I need to write them down before they escape into thin air. Tick tock ,tick tock, where has the time gone?
Recently I stumbled on The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney. It is brilliant. Tim Scott is a man of technology brilliance, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups, Scott Robotics. When Abbie Cullen awakens in a stupor with no memory of who she is, she is told that she is artificial intelligent, and she is known as a cobot. Tim tells Abbie that she is his wife, a gifted artist, an avid surfer and a loving mother to their young son, Danny who is an autistic child. He tells her that she had a terrible accident five years ago and through a technological breakthrough, she had been brought back by him from the abyss. Can she trust him? Is Abbie alive or dead ?
The story is narrated in three voices. The present timeline is narrated in second person. Here is a snippet.
‘ You’d been hoping Tim would talk to you. Really talk, that is. About the cracks in his marriage, about what he and Abbie were like when everyone else had left them and they were alone. And you’d thought ,in that context of honesty and intimacy, you’d begin to forge your own, individual connection with him.
But all you get is more of his unrelenting, sappy drivel about how wonderful she was.You want to scream at him to wake up , that no one ‘s that perfect, but of course you don’t. You nod and smile and say uh-huh and that’s nice and oh, how sweet.
Inevitably he ends up talking mostly about himself, this grand vision for humanity’s future that he and Abbie supposedly shared.’
He tells her that she had made him see that a society of incredible technology brilliance but no richness of human experience would be like Disneyland without children. If it hadn’t been for her, he’d never have started thinking about the whole area of machine empathy and successfully created a cobot with emotional intelligence.
‘Cobot is short for “ companion robot.”. Studies with prototypes suggest the presence of a cobot may alleviate the loss of a loved one, providing solace, company, and emotional support in the aftermath of bereavement.
‘How will cobots differ rom other forms of artificial intelligence?
Cobots have been specifically designed to be empathetic.
Will each cobot be unique?
Each cobot will be customized to closely replicate the physical appearance of the loved one. Social media records, texts, and other documents will be aggregated to create a “neural file” reflecting their unique traits and personality.
“ This is what you do,” you remember.” You design artificial intelligence. But that’s something to do with customer service – chatbots –”
“ That’s right,” he interrupts.” I was working on that side of it. But that was five years ago –your memories are all five years out of date. After I lost you, I realized bereavement was the bigger need. It’s taken all this time to get you to this stage.” ‘
Tim tells Abbie that she is only the duplicate and the reason that she is created is to search for Abbie if she is alive and to find out why she left using the memories that have been uploaded onto her. He wants her to walk in Abbie’s footstep and try to work out where Abbie is. In reality, what Tim wants to remember and recreate is the early days with Abbie. It was whirlwind romance, they were married within months. What Tim wants is the perfect wife that he believes Abbie will be. Megan Meyer, the matchmaker / dating coach tells Abbie, the cobot that Tim suffers from the Galatea syndrome, in other words, Tim fell in love with an ideal , rather than a person.
Abbie the cobot ( companion robot) thus questions,
‘If Abbie is alive, then what is she? A copy. A doppelgänger. A thing without a name.’
Abbie the cobot is such an endearing character that you will root for her. How can you not love her when she attempts to make bouillabaisse using the recipe from Jean-Baptiste Reboul’s 1897 La Cuisiniėre Provençale. When some of the ingredients are unavailable, she modifies the recipe with one from Chez Panisse click
I absolutely love the premise of the story in The Perfect Wife. Imagine the computer tells you “ I want to get out of there and have a life”. Imagine in the foreseeable future, we have a robot programmed to assume the characteristics of some individuals and form a personality close to someone who has passed on and that might constitute an infringement of the privacy and data protection laws. In reality, we are all each other and we are not that different while we try hard to forge an identity that we call our own in this world yet wittingly and unwittingly we conform with social norms and expectations , with social media and technology that keep us constantly on our texts exchange and emails, I find us running our daily lives on automation. The author of The Perfect Wife has cleverly put together a story that poses questions about technology and humanity. It has an interesting plot and several subtexts about expectations in relationships and it poses philosophical questions about what it means to be a human and whether a cobot can become more human than a human. It also asks questions about data protection and if you could duplicate a human by creating a cobot based on information from social media, text messages etc. Definitely a good read.