What does it mean to say ‘I love you’?
“What do you hear, when I speak those words at night, in bed—in the bunk-bed as I tuck my children tight in their sheets—or maybe the bed is his, by the window, and I whisper ‘I love you’ as he takes my hips in his hands. What do I want to convey with those words—of my soul or my sex, of my need or its opposite: my offering, to you, of a gift that requires no response.”
Ariadne is a 40-something single writer who’s working on a book about what it means to say ‘I love you.’ Since she keeps getting rejected for grants—and is barely able to pay her rent—she decides to join a study at the University of Toronto, in which she’s paid to interact with an AI device called Dirk….
This might seem like a leap—from eternal ‘I love you’ to current concerns about AI—but it actually digs to the core of both issues, namely: How do we communicate our thoughts and emotions to another person (or entity) such that he/she/it receives our intended meaning—assuming, of course, we could possibly know what our intended meaning is…?
Three excerpts of the book have recently been published: The Puritan ran a sexy little piece that focuses on AI; Tikkun featured an excerpt that moves wildly, yet with grace; and the Minola Review published a piece called “Perform,” in which the Minotaur is given centre stage.
Please note: The excerpt in Tikkun includes several references, which I’d like to acknowledge.