Married, With Glitches

Will human-robot interactions be undone by technical difficulties?

Findings from the first major study on human-robot marital discord since the passage of the Automaton Marriage Act of 2050. (Bruce McCall)
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1. Almost 95 percent of divorced robots patronized a downtown club, appliance store or singles bar within two hours of the final decree. (Figure for divorced humans: 4 percent.)

2. Survey Q #59: “Plan to keep in touch with human former in-laws?”: No responses.

Can the robot-human divorce epidemic be curbed? It’s too soon to tell. But helpful clues have surfaced:

1. A panel of ex-NASA pastors concludes that a joint prenuptial reading of any up-to-date robot technical manual can nip many ill-advised person-machine romances in the bud.

2. Given the sobering fact that at least half of all human-robot marriages occur within 48 hours and 15 square miles of major electronics expos, it would appear that the glamorous swirl typical of such venues raises unreal expectations for both human and robot. Better for initial “hookups” to take place in more emotionally neutral settings; e.g., a lab or biomechanics conferences not held in Las Vegas.

Bruce McCall is a writer and artist in New York City.

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