Martin Lindstrom, writing for the NYT:
But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.
In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.
Now, keep in mind that the way this op-ed interprets the neuroscience evidence is rather unfounded (take a look here to see why).
But that doesn’t really matter as far as fiction is concerned. This is exactly the kind of over-interpretation that can make good sci-fi (remember, while scientific rigor can make for good sci-fi, it’s not required. Much sci-fi is really fantasy).
I actually wrote a story based on this premise almost a decade ago, before the iPhone even existed. Alas, that story never sold, otherwise I’d appear pretty good as a prognosticator.
I do not think this is in anyway a new phenomenon though, nor would I consider it somehow purely negative. I’m sure you can find a caveman whose feelings for his favorite hunting knife could be described as love.
We have always humanized our tools and endowed them with emotional qualities. It’s one of the most puzzling as well as endearing qualities of our species.