Understanding binaries part one: Here’s why there aren’t any LGBTQ AIs

Nature abhors a binary. As far as I can tell, the only place binaries actually exist is in the human imagination. Even life and death, the ultimate human binary, are just processes affecting our physical matter — matter that was here long before we became conscious and will exist long after we’re pronounced dead.

We start off as stardust and that’s exactly how we’re going to eventually end up. Everything that happens in between is gradients of existence. With that in mind, let’s talk about binary thinking and how unscientific and useless it is. For that, we’ll need to try and imagine queer robots.

How do you make a queer AI?

The low-hanging fruit here is to, for example, say we’d make two male androids and program them to love each other.

But since when is “love” a requirement for sexuality? How would you define “male” in machine expression? How do robots have “sex,” and what qualifies as “sex?”

Then again, queerness and sex aren’t necessarily related. If they were, it would mean that the only queer people are those who’ve had sex. That doesn’t sound right. If you can be a straight virgin, why can’t you be a queer one?

Are you officially queer if you have queer sex experience? Is there a statute of limitations? Do you turn straight after seven years of queer inactivity?

It’s apparent we need to define ‘queer’ a little better. Our robot is either going to be queer, or it isn’t. We need to nail this binary to successfully engineer our machine.

The big question

What is queer? It’s not same-sex relationships — asexuals don’t typically experience gender-based attraction, aromantics don’t tend to experience any form of romantic attachment, and non-binary people, well, they’re non-binary — “same sex” and “opposite sex” are relative terms.

And it certainly isn’t just “who you love.” Because there are loveless queer relationships just like there are loveless straight relationships.

Let’s dial things back. How about, instead of making a robot that acts physically queer by engaging in same-sex relationships, we build an AI that communicates in a queer way.

How’s that sound? What do queer people look and sound like? Do they speak with a stereotypical queer emphasis? Is there an accent involved? Or do we just focus on the content itself? Can we build a queer chatbot?

What would that look like? Which queer stereotype should we embed in our chatbot as its core personality? Snarky gay guy friend? Non-binary nerd? Butch lesbian?

The whole premise is stupid. You can’t build a queer AI because queerness cannot be codified externally. You’re queer if you identify as queer and there’s no science on Earth that can prove you wrong. Queerness, like straightness, is a social construct built around good old-fashioned tribalism. Our sexuality is as unique as we are. Sexuality does not exist in a binary. Nor does gender or intelligence.

There are as many different ways to be queer as there are people on the planet.

Another way of looking at it: the queer/straight binary is nonsense. It’s a false dichotomy invented to bring comfort to those incapable of fathoming a spectrum of human behavior across modalities.

You’re queer if you say you are. And if you wanna think you’re straight, you can do that too. There’s literally no authority, scientific or otherwise, qualified to disagree.

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