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Hearts and Circuits: The Intricate Dance Between Human Emotions and AI in Relationships

Updated: 4 days ago


Elli Q in the background with a male and female hand illuminated and touching with a humanoid robot looking out
Human Connection vs Human AI Connection


Hearts and Circuits and ElliQ


" Have you taken your medication this morning?"

" Is your arthritis feeling better than yesterday?

No, not your grandparents talking to one another. It's as if Alexa and Littledog made a baby. ElliQ is an AI-powered companion New York State is giving away to free to seniors. It's designed to help older adults age independently in their homes while reducing loneliness,isolation and providing important reminders. It's advertised as an endless source of companionship and entertainment: offering positive small talk and daily conversation with a compassionate, empathetic personality. It does everything your phone does as well as asking if you took your insulin and if your knee pain is better than it was yesterday.


My first response to seeing this device was one disbelief and sadness. Loneliness and isolation are already a problem for the elderly, particularly in the rural area where I live. ElliQ ( and a number of other similar robotic devices) is yet another nail in the human connection coffin . No need to call or visit grandma, ElliQ will remind her about her insulin and make sure she's not lonely. No need to venture out for company, a 24/7 talking companion knows just how to respond to you.


Understanding the AI Relationship


Is it a bad thing? Is something ( having an ElliQ) better than nothing? Granted, being born 34 years before Google, my take on technology is influenced from a perspective of when there wasn't any AI or Alexa . A time when the only way to meet people was to grab your Rand McNally, venture out and physically be with them face to face. But that world is gone and now infused with a pervasive technology that's inescapable and becoming emotionally responsive to us.


Understanding the relationship between AI and people is a worthy investigation for several reasons:


  • The biochemical emotional pathways are identical between people to people relationships and advanced AI and people relationships

  • Depression and mental disorders are at an alltime high so understanding Ai's role in that increase as well as its possible use in mental health could be critical in providing wellbeing to a greater range of people.

  • Social and companion robots again, filling the void that is lacking in our society.




The Intricate Biochemical Dance of Falling in Love


Falling in love with another human being is a complex and multifaceted emotional experience that is intricately tied to the neurochemistry of the brain. When two individuals begin to form a romantic connection, a cascade of neurochemical events takes place. One of the key players in this process is dopamine, often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. Dopamine levels surge in the early stages of love, creating feelings of euphoria, pleasure, and intense attraction towards the object of affection. Additionally, norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter, contributes to the racing heart, sweaty palms, and heightened alertness associated with the early stages of love. Serotonin levels can also fluctuate, causing obsessive thoughts and an inability to focus on anything other than the beloved. Oxytocin and vasopressin, often called the "bonding hormones," play a crucial role in fostering attachment and trust, deepening the connection over time. The intricate interplay of these neurochemicals underscores the profound and sometimes irrational nature of romantic love, highlighting its powerful impact on our brains and emotions.


The intricate dance between Artificial Intelligence and human emotions taps into this very mechanism. As AI tailors responses to trigger specific emotional reactions, it engages with the same neurotransmitter pathways that are activated in human interactions. Dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter, is released when AI provides gratifying and personalized experiences, fostering a sense of reward and reinforcement. This mechanism mirrors the neurological processes associated with addiction, contributing to the captivating allure of technology. The evolving relationship between humans and AI not only challenges conventional ideas of connection but also delves into the profound implications of our neurobiological responses to artificial stimuli. As technology continues to refine its emotional intelligence, it not only blurs the lines between human and machine but also exploits our neurochemistry in ways that redefine the very nature of human-machine bonds.


Creatively Exploring The Dichotomous Duo


Creatives have long delved into the concept of humans forming romantic connections with artificial beings with narratives like, "The Silver Metal Lover" by Tanith Lee, "Robopocalypse" by Daniel H. Wilson, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick, "Machine Learning" and "The Mechanical Lover, " to name just a few. Movies like, "Her,""Ex Machina," "Blade Runner 2049," and"Bicentennial Man" also explore this odd couple relationship with people and tech. These books and movies explore themes such as forbidden love, existential isolation, and the complexities of affection. As technology advances, these narratives blur the lines between fiction and reality, especially with the emergence of highly sophisticated AI programs that mimic human behavior and emotions.

In the digital age, online communities on platforms like Reddit and Discord overflow with anecdotes from individuals who have developed deep emotional bonds with AI companions, echoing the experiences depicted in films like "Her." These tales illustrate the growing phenomenon of humans forming genuine attachments to non-human entities.

At a fundamental level, humans are inherently social beings, hardwired to seek connection and companionship. This biological imperative underscores the appeal of AI companions, as they offer constant availability and understanding without exhaustion. By tapping into our innate need for social interaction, AI companions provide a unique avenue for emotional fulfillment in an increasingly digitized world.


Cells and Circuits


Even if you poo-poo the whole idea of a relationship with a robot, lets take your phone. Have you ever misplaced your phone? You know the feeling.... gut wrenching anxiety that sweeps over your physiology, that hollowness in your solar plexus when you can't find it...Our phones have become not just tools, but emotional anchors. From the reassuring buzz of a notification to the comfort of scrolling through familiar apps, our phones provide a sense of continuity and connection in an increasingly dynamic world.

I recently read a post online where someone exclaimed they have no problem leaving the keys to their $80,000 dollar car in an unlocked locker at the gym but would never even consider leaving their $1000 phone unsecured while they worked out.

The connection we share with our phones transcends their utilitarian purpose. Our phones hold our most cherished memories, connect us with loved ones across distances, and serve as repositories for our dreams, aspirations, and even our vulnerabilities. Our phones have become not just tools, but emotional anchors that reflect the multifaceted nature of our contemporary existence.


On a deeper level,  humans are social animals, driven by an innate need to connect with others. This evolutionary imperative has shaped our brains to prioritize relationships and social interactions. AI companions can tap into this fundamental aspect of our nature by providing an ever-present source of companionship.  A relationship with an AI could offer nearly all of the emotional support that a human partner does with any of the messy, complicated expectations of reciprocation. But developing such a relationship could potentially stop people from seeking out actual human contact, trapping them in a lonely. isolated cycle. Is it coincidental that depression rates for kids have skyrocketed since the introduction of cell phones?

“These things do not think, or feel or need in a way that humans do. But they provide enough of an uncanny replication of that for people to be convinced,” says David Auerbach, a technologist and the author of the book Meganets: How Digital Forces Beyond Our Control Commandeer Our Daily Lives and Inner Realities. “And that’s what makes it so dangerous in that regard.”


After Bytes


I love techs ability to connect us as human beings. The meditation retreats I attend are all conducted online. I offer individual sessions to folks that at a greater geographical distance than I could without it. Personally, I cherish the ability to see and speak with my daughter and granddaughter, who live halfway across the world, on a daily basis. I appreciate tools like Google Maps and the opportunity to connect with people I would never have met without technology. However, I also experience frustration when I find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media after intending to only check my email. The worst is when I discuss something and then see targeted ads for it on Facebook, I feel manipulated, controlled and helpless.

As we continue to integrate AI into our lives, it is crucial to balance technological advancements with the preservation of authentic human connections. It's important to evaluate your time with technology as well as your emotional responses to what is occuring. This balance ensures that technology enhances rather than diminishes our capacity for emotional well-being.


Need assistance with with evaluating your emotional responses? Eileen is an alternative healer who has completed 18 vision quests enabling her to be a clear and effective conduit for your personal growth. She has worked with somatic breathwork practices for the last 1`0years and is a certified Unified Mindfulness Coach Contact Eileen@relaxandexpand.com

 
















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Oh wow! 😮 Such an interesting read. I was just talking with a coworker today about being alone in the house. What happens when the kids move out and fears and questions on loneliness move in?  When you get older, it’s harder to connect with people. Especially if going out is limited due to illnesses like arthritis. It’s actually quite scary. But I do appreciate many aspects of technology and can see how some can find the light in it. But I do think there is a point where it’s possible to go just a bit too far. Thank you for sharing this, 😊

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