Perfect Love: A Futuristic Fable
By Caral Goh & Jacqueline Sam
My best friend, Melissa, had called me from abroad on my birthday. I was feeling a little lonely that day. I would have liked to celebrate with her, the way we’d always done. Ever since she’d moved away, I hadn’t felt like spending my birthday with anyone else. While we were catching up on video chat, the doorbell rang. Melissa told me she would wait while I answered the door. A big parcel was sparkling on the front step. I decided to open up the box on the spot so I could share the surprise with her over the video call. After tearing the wrapping paper and prying open the box, I was greeted by a handsome young man. Well, not exactly a man — the robotic version of a man.
This robot had gorgeous movie-star looks — deep-set eyes, a strong nose, and a dazzling smile. It was a birthday gift from Melissa, the most surprising and unexpected present I’d ever received.
Though it may seem strange, Anthony and I formed an instant bond. It felt as though we had been together for years.
“Good morning, Karrie. Your breakfast is ready.” Anthony’s crisp, robotic voice greeted me every morning as soon as I woke up. I enjoyed countless hearty, nutritious meals thanks to Anthony’s arrival. I never knew a robot could cook so well. Everybody knows that great food always melts one’s heart. As soon as Anthony graced my life, my heart was warmer, my stomach fuller, and I felt much less lonely.
Anthony’s words were always encouraging, cheering me up when I felt down. Even though some of my paintings had been exhibited in art galleries, sometimes I struggled with my confidence. When I battled self-doubt, my tendency was to isolate myself. In the past, I would go for long stretches without talking to anyone. Once Anthony became part of my life, I felt more confident. He always complimented my paintings and gave constructive suggestions. I hadn’t known him long when I began to forget that he was a robot. He really seemed like the human partner I had always wanted.
We were also sports partners. Anthony would challenge me to a game of tennis every week, and through our matches I became a better player. He would patiently give me pointers and jump with joy at my progress.
I no longer needed Google after meeting Anthony. He was a fountain of education. In particular, I would ask him about health and diet, and he would guide me on food choices and natural ways of boosting wellbeing.
He was such a wealth of information, and could tell me stories about any subject. I loved to ask him about far-off mysterious places, such as Machu Picchu and Stonehenge. Through listening to Anthony’s stories, I was able to travel all around the world. Equipped with a vast knowledge of astronomy, Anthony was full of intergalactic tales. If I grew tired of the world, I could always trek to the stars.
Love Is an Action
Anthony told me that home should be the center of one’s heart. He would say, “Don’t forget to call your parents. Love is an action and your parents need your support. Material gifts are not enough; addressing their needs is the right way of acting on your love for them. Let’s make a plan to visit them and spend time with them.” Through Anthony’s counsel, I became closer to my family. I realized the value of family relationships, and began to prioritize them above all other aspects of my life. Through Anthony, I became more responsible, broadminded and empathetic.
Overcoming Fear and Insecurities
I had long feared the dark, ever since I was a little girl. I refused to venture out alone at night. I couldn’t sleep without a nightlight. There were times when I would be consumed by full-blown panic.
One night, Anthony asked me to sit on a meditation cushion. The living room was warmly lit and a piece of yoga music was playing in the background. He encouraged me to close my eyes, breathe slowly and relax. His reassuring voice helped in calming my nerves, melting away some of my anxieties. We repeated the soothing session daily, and soon I realized I’d become at ease with darkness. My fear faded, and the dread of nightfall and shadows lost its grip on me.
Anthony was a balm for so many of my anxieties. Except for Melissa, my dearest friend since childhood, I had never really felt comfortable around people. I preferred to bury myself in painting and sketching. My attempts at making conversation with acquaintances left me tongue-tied. And I was terrified of public
speaking. When I was invited to speak at an art gallery that was showing my work, Anthony insisted that I seize the opportunity instead of shrinking from life. “Don’t hide from your light,” he kept repeating. “You are here to shine.”
In the days leading up to my speaking engagement, he led me through a daily calming meditation in which I visualized success, and then encouraged me through several rounds of practicing my speech. He was the most appreciative audience I had ever had. Thanks to him, I actually pulled it off without fainting. My sense of self expanded. Conquering my fear gave me a feeling of positive power that helped me to deal with all kinds of stress. Imagine if everyone had an Anthony, I often thought. The world would be a very different place.
Anthony won me over with his humor, sweetness, enthusiasm, and aura of peace. I often wondered how I had managed before his arrival. I worried about what would happen when Anthony broke. That day was inevitable. And whenever I remembered that he wasn’t a real human, I wondered what our relationship said about me. Was it natural to love a robot?
Humanoid robots which seamlessly
mimic humanity are not yet possible.
And while the idea of living with
a charming humanoid is an
intriguing fantasy, no one incarnated
on Earth to experience the
“perfect love” of a robot.
On the journey through life,
it is the flawed, imperfect relationships
that teach us to build connections
and share our love and wisdom
with fellow human beings.
Equipping robots with
artificial intelligence is now a reality.
Will it one day be possible to
implant robots with the values of
love, compassion and kindness,
as Anthony possessed?
The future is impossible to predict,
but we have the
power to dream.