By Loryn Stone
“I already want to fuck Erica.” -Anonymous PopLurker writer
This morning, while at the park, I checked my email only to discover that Bank of America sent me a solicitation. While the usual mail from them is notifications of an overdraft fee, this one had something a little different. It breathed a name up from its satiny digital paper and it danced upon my lips with a curious exhale.
Will she be our newest A.I. girlfriend? Will she join the ranks of Siri, for whom I dumped for the chattier Alexa? (She tells jokes and much more, you know). My curiosity was piqued. What are you going to do for me, Erica?
Well, turns out Erica is a chatbot, first announced to the public in 2016, at that. Her function is only a little more sophisticated than AOL’s SmarterChild and she basically answers questions (in text form, it seems) about your account. She will definitely attend to all your needs. And while we’re not yet sure if she has a voice, we hope in advance that it’s sexy.
But it doesn’t quite stop there for us. What is it about female-gendered names that drives our society wild? I’d venture to guess it’s as simple as this: we like the idea of women working for us. You get to be the big boss while Alexa, Siri, and Erica are all serving you. Alexa is the funny girlfriend, Siri is the demure girlfriend, and Erica will be the smart one with all her access and knowledge of your finances. She has the keys to the proverbial car. With these three, it’s like an anime trio of hot robot women serving you, ready to take care of you at any time.
As an avid robot lover and someone who is ready to leave my spouse the moment the Cylons and Hosts infiltrate, I wonder where this first wave of “useful robot girlfriends” will take us. Similarly, is this some kind of marketing or publicity stunt for Bank of America? While it’s easy for the public to dislike the bank for a variety of reasons and even blame them for the mortgage crisis when they were stupid enough to buy the Countrywide Home Loans portfolio during the deepest plunge of the housing market crash, you have to remember something. Bank of America actually invented the first Automatic Teller Machine and the first Credit Card, which would eventually be renamed VISA. They also created the first mobile banking app. It’s actually no surprise that they would give us our next A.I. girlfriend, Erica.
But why Erica? Why do any of them have names at all? Why is the ATM or online banking or telephone banking or going inside the bank just not good enough anymore? Are we heading into Terminator territory? Will Erica be given a physical form and robot around the branches with one of those freaky holographic faces? Will her A.I. supersede that of which she was programed, become sentient, and start telling us weird things through our phones in the middle of the night? And if…just if that’s the case…
I might need to open a few more checking accounts, please.
Loryn will be waiting for her robot girlfriend on Twitter. She also has a personal blog. Loryn’s debut novel My Starlight, a young adult novel about anime, cosplaying, fandom, love, loss, and friendship will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications.
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