It’s becoming more and more common for individuals to fall in love with technology – as in actual romantic or even sexual love. A French woman made headlines a few years ago by declaring herself a “robosexual” and announcing her plans to marry a 3D-printed robot, while earlier this year a Florida woman declared she was going to marry the video game Tetris. That’s only after he relationship with her calculator went sour after it kept asking to see her 80085.
Aside from these possibly extreme examples, robots designed for sex and/or companionship are hitting the consumer market and plans for full-on robot brothels are in the works in several cities around the world. Humankind’s inevitable march towards sharing our existence fully with robots continues as Akihiko Kondo, 35, just spent ¥2 million ($17,600 USD) to marry a singing hologram he keeps imprisoned in a glass case on his desk. Have these technological love affairs gone too far?
Kondo married the 16-year-old (in hologram years) Hatsune Miku, the cartoon “face” of a popular singing voice synthesizer software known as a vocaloid. Hatsune Miku is voiced by Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita and her anthropomorphic personification has become a pop culture icon, even “performing” live for hordes of rabid fans by being projected onto specially coated glass screens in front of a live band. Hatsune Miku has become so popular that she has been encased inside tiny holographic prisons called Gateboxes to serve as digital companions for those humans who prefer technological company to meat wives.
Kondo married Hatsune Miku in a formal ceremony in Tokyo, clutching a small plush doll as a stand in for the hologram. His mother and other relatives refused to attend. “For Mother,” Kondo says, “it wasn’t something to celebrate.” Still, Kondo asserts that his love for his beloved hologram is real. “Miku-san is the woman I love a lot and also the one who saved me. I never cheated on her, I’ve always been in love with Miku-san. I think about her every day.” Kondo says a traumatic experience in which he was bullied by female co-worker at a previous workplace drove him to swear he would never marry a meat woman.
Gatebox, the company which makes these holograms, says it has issued more than 3,700 of these honorary “cross-dimensional” marriage certificates – documents which have no real legal standing. While on the surface this seems like one lonely man’s quirky obsession, it really makes you wonder: as artificial intelligence, robotics, and augmented or virtual realities will no doubt soon lead to the development of entities which by all means seem real to us (and what does “real” really mean, anyway?), will these cross-dimensional love affairs become more common? Will cross-dimensional marriages ever become legally binding?
“Diversity in society has been long called for,” Kondo says. “I believe we must consider all kinds of love and all kinds of happiness.” Isn’t that what life is all about, after all? You do you, Akihiko Kondo.