When Artificial Intelligence takes over humankind, what will it do with tango? I assumed we were safe until I saw a robot dance teacher. A fine Japanese invention, designed to interact with humans and make them more comfortable around bots. It senses if you are a novice or an experienced dancer and varies freedom in the embrace accordingly. It’s in the early stages of development, but its long-term viability is not in doubt. Moving on wheels currently, under a cylindrical shape, any risk of stepping on toes is completely absent, too.
Nothing’s sacred anymore, I complained to myself, watching the video. I knew there are robots that break-dance, twist, or do tricky ballet moves. Bots that recognize emotions and respond to them, some with freakily realistic expressions on their faces, combined with interesting conversation. How long for robots to be used in couples’ dancing? I imagined followers taking their seats in the milonga and unfolding the bot they just ordered from Amazon. A solid strategy to avoid sitting through tandas.
I discussed the matter with a skeptic who called me crazy. Only a man could come up with such an idea. After all, she reminded me, men have sex with plastic inflatable dolls. “This is not all,” I said. “Soon, people will meet in virtual reality milongas, dancing with a partner they assembled online. They can stay on their couches and go for a spin with Noelia Hurtado, 2015 edition. Followers can pick the head of Pablo Veron and combine it with Zotto’s 1996 body.” As I talked about it, weirdly, the idea appealed to me more. Hang on, I thought, what’s so bad about all this? I would love to dance with Noelia Hurtado, even if she was some virtual avatar.
“For women, tango will always be about the real experience”, my skeptic said. “Putting yourself out there, pushing your boundaries. Being in touch with real people, feel their warmth.” “You are on Facebook, right?”, I said. “Well, yes.” “I’m a family man with a full-time job. Without Facebook and YouTube, tango wouldn’t have been where it is today for me. Let’s keep an open mind about technology and its benefits.” “It begins with a blessing, but it ends with a curse,” she said. “Making life easy, but making it worse.”
“The bot is very patient, repeating instructions a hundred times,” I added. “It will give you the name of each tango and who composed it.” “It won’t feel human, though.” “A matter of time,” I said. “I’ve seen robots doing somersaults.” “It doesn’t even have a crotch, your bot”. “That can be fixed,” I said, continuing my sale. “It explains things only when you ask for it. It doesn’t ignore your cabeceos. You can program it to make sure that it doesn’t make a pass at you during a private lesson.” “Yeah, yeah, I get the idea,” she said, waving at me to stop. “Or, if you prefer otherwise, you can require it makes a pass at you.”
(PS Okay, I admit she didn’t quote Kevin Ayers. It’s just that I’ve been dying to use that quote for some time, and this seemed the moment for it. Cut me some artistic slack.)
Published: 22 May 2023 @ 15:42
Explore the tango stories directory for news, reviews, videos, opinions and everything else ‘tango’. How to post a story? Members can post stories completely free. Visit Membership Options to get started.
Tango Lesson Alzheimer
Teachers show a sequence and innocently tell you to try it. “It’s easy,” you think. “Done…
The Taxi Dancer Solution
A traveler returning from Florida reported that taxi dancers in the milonga charge 25 doll…
Reflections on Leading and Following (in...
In interviews for Humans of Tango, I pretty much always ask about the roles. And I’m alway…
Who’s Dancing With You?
‘I apologize for writing directly to you, but you’ve come highly recommended, and we would…