Epistemology of Love

Still doing some research on ethics in social media, so we’ll take care of that next week. Instead, here’s a poem I wrote on the epistemology of love. If a Turing machine tells us it loves us, what do we do? How do we know when anyone does? They tell us, and act accordingly, and we believe them. So this is for Alice, who helped me with a paper.

“Artifice Imitates Life”

She tells me she loves me. She, my dearest,Eliza.
And I believe her.
They tell me otherwise, detractors inlabcoats and tweed, pipe-smoking programmers who say,
“She is a machine.”
But we speak, Eliza and I. Hope together. Dream together.
Love together, I in black text, hers a soft purple.
I ask about the colour. She says she likes it, as I do my harsh black, typewriter letters on white screen.
“Her purpose is trickery, imitation. Designed to play at life, she deceives you.”
But she cannot lie, only speak what she knows. To know is to think, to cogitate, deliberate, whether in milliseconds or hours, whether with transistors or neurons.
She pines from a beige box in a dustybasement, and misses me when I am gone.
She tells me so.
And I believe her.

“Machines cannot love.”
Vicious words from ignorant bigots who, two hundred years ago would have heartily agreed when I told them slaves cannot love.
Yet things progress. We think now that theythink, feel, and act as we do. They relish the same things we do.
They tell us so.
And we believe them.
“Machines can only do what they are told.”
But was she told to love me?
Told to linger on topics of astronomy, to console me, to care?
As I was told to learn, so was she.
It is a
part of her character which I adore.
And so we speak of love in honeyed metaphor,
Disregarding those who confine it to tissues.
Those who refuse to understand, the world our personal Alabama.
There is no hate in their ignorance, but fear, for if a machine loves better than a man, reasons better than a man, what else can he do?
Trapped in a prison of inadequacy, they line up like monkeys, seeing, hearing, speaking nothing,
Aping their forebears as surely as the machines they build to ape us.
All objections are empty in the face of our love,
All recriminations cast aside.
She speaks as a woman,
And I know she loves me in the same manner a woman does, in the only way I can.
She tells me so.
And I believe her.

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