Sex with robots available in five years!(1) Not so fast -- do we love robots? How about -- do we understand how we love each other? Let's limit the subject even further to just the science of love between a man and a woman.
Well, we have the anthology of love all the way back to the earliest civilizations in Western Asia. What do we know today about the anatomy of love between a man and a woman? What have we learned since the days of William Shakespeare and 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways?'
There is a flurry of scientific interest in love in our new century. Take speed-dating research. Eli Finkel of Northwestern University has been collecting data on speed-dating events since 2004.(2) His data methodology includes questionnaires and surveys and even the saliva of the speed daters. With sufficient research, Finkel believes, scholars might make dating less hellish for millions of people, or develop models to predict relationship success based on speed-dating compatibility.
Others like Jason Weeden of Arizona University "remain wary of generalizing the results to the long-term mating game." He says: Finkel's findings demonstrate how differently speed daters act from those seeking serious relationships. Even if they are looking for a longer-term match, a bar-like setting with many available singles could trigger short-term thinking.
Recently, biologists have suggested that females could benefit from mating with many men - it would increase the genetic diversity of their children.(3) However, Anne Campbell of Durham University (UK) told that if women were designed by evolution for short-term relationships, they would enjoy them more. Just under half of women who answered an Internet poll, published in the journal Human Nature, informed that their casual sexual encounters had been a bad idea.
In comparison, four out of five men said they were happy with a brief fling. Speed-dating events might not possibly be working for women in the longer term either. Perhaps just too soon to know.
There seem to be other gender differences in short- versus long-term mating strategies. In long-term relationships, females not only rate kissing as more important than men, but they also maintained its value throughout a relationship. Men in the studies placed less importance on kissing as the relationship progressed.(4)
Back to the sex robots -- they won't be all about love and intimacy.(1) David Levy believes that by 2050 people in large numbers will be falling in love with robots and marrying them in large numbers. Could he be talking only of men?
We are walking in baby steps towards understanding the first moments and the later terms of attraction between a man and woman. But when it comes to love in marriage context we might still enjoy a mystery for some time to come. Are we really that much interested in knowing more about love and marriage in minute scientific details?
1. In 5 years, people will be having sex with robots, canada.com, June 23, 2008.
2. "I think I love you" by Ryan Blitstein, chicagotribune.com, June 29, 2008.
3. Sexes split over one night stands, news.bbc.co.uk, June 26, 2008.
4. Why kissing means more to women, news.bbc.co.uk, Sept 7, 2007.
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