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Sex with Robots

As some of you know, I do a couple of talks under the Title of Sex with Robots. Mostly it’s about our evolving relationship to technology and our growing estrangement from both ourselves and each other.

I also point out how the best source for imagining the future has been the arts/entertainment with special reference to science fiction. This suggests the absolute necessity of imagination, creativity, and playfulness in anticipating the future whether your an amateur or a professional foresight strategist.

Photograph by Max Aguilera-Hellweg Nick Mayer, of the LifeNaut project in Vermont, sits down for a chat with the robotic head Bina48. Hanson Robotics created the talkative humanoid in the image of Bina Rothblatt, the co-founder of LifeNaut, which is exploring robot-human fusion as a technological path to immortality.
Photograph by Max Aguilera-Hellweg
Nick Mayer, of the LifeNaut project in Vermont, sits down for a chat with the robotic head Bina48. Hanson Robotics created the talkative humanoid in the image of Bina Rothblatt, the co-founder of LifeNaut, which is exploring robot-human fusion as a technological path to immortality.

 

TWO EMERGING DEVELOPMENTS

FIRST…The Sense of “feeling”

Let’s think about two emerging developments and where they might lead us. First, The development of technology that will mimic human skin. This could be a wonderful technology for those with artificial limbs. Imagine adding an artificial limb that “feels” through nanoscale sensors that send messages to the brain. On the other side, imagine adding this “skin” to androids. Will it come to pass that future robots, garbed in human-like skin, will be able to feel?

Here’s the relevant link: Human Skin

SECOND…Emotional Attachments

Second, We’ve all heard of those people that fall in love with objects, like Erika La Tour Eiffel who married the Eiffel Tower. But that’s just the odd person here and there, right?

A new study suggests that humans “can and will form emotional attachments to robots.” Because one of the anticipated uses of these machines will be to assist the elderly, future robots may be designed to look and feel more like organic beings than metal objects. What other kinds of emotional attachments might we anticipate?

Here’s the relevant link: Emotional Attachment

As I’ve stated before, when thinking about the future, it isn’t enough to ask “What will happen”? We must ask, “What will happen because of what happens”?

PROCESSING QUESTIONS

Here are some questions to provoke your thinking.

  • What if an elderly person, who has grown emotionally attached to her/his android, wants to leave their fortune to the preservation, sustaining, and upgrading of their personal robot?
  • If a future robot inherited a fortune and could thereby maintain itself and upgrade itself, will we have robots that “live” independently for thousands of years?
  • What would happen to the sex trafficing industry, if androids and gynoids “peopled” future “red light” districts?
  • What if future humans want to “marry” and form families with future androids because of love? On what basis could we object?

Give these questions a shot. Remember, loosen up and have fun. Only the future is at stake.

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Sex with Robots”

  1. you know what i love about this conversation alex? it brings to mind so many of the discussions and issues raised around the character of Lt. Cmdr. Data in Star Trek: TNG. seriously. self-awareness and personhood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Measure_of_a_Man_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)). relationships between humans and androids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Theory_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)). feeling skin on artificial beings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_First_Contact).

    i can’t say that i’m a tried and true trekkie, but these images and storylines have impacted me enough to have stuck around in my memory banks for a while.

    1. Thanks Patrick, Check out this trailer for an upcoming movie, Her —

      Just like some people love their pets more than humans, some will love their technology more than humans.
      And yet, there’s something about this that points to such a human longing deep within the human heart.

  2. That looks like an interesting movie, but I’m still weirded out by the idea of humans bonding with a series of programmed responses. Maybe it’s the idea of robots in my mind generally equals predictability. Life itself is unpredictable and nuanced, and to improved technology to the point of allowing machines to respond like a human seems at the very least “false” in my mind and at the most, like you’re being set up for major emotional betrayal and disappointment when you discover that a machine is just that… a machine incapable of true emotion. Even if it’s programmed to appear emotional. Interestingly, I’ve been watching the current version of Battlestar Gallactica on Netflix. This also explores the idea of independant robots (Cylons) that become self-sustaining and eventually try to destroy the human race. What’s interesting is how human-looking robots have driven some of the crew to fall in love with them, and even have a 1/2 breed child (which is a far-fetched but interesting idea). When the humans have an opportunity to destroy the Cylons, they begin feeling morally restricted to “genocide” and start using humanistic terms such as “Cylon Race” showing that the humans have begun to humanize the machines. The robots become more recognized as a race unto themselves. Wouldn’t that be weird to live next door to an independant robot family? I can’t wrap my head around it, and thakfully probably won’t have to in my lifetime…

    1. Thanks for your input, Greg.

      Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorite series.
      For a real world view of where things may be going,
      keep your eye on Japan. They are
      farther down the road with entertainment venues like
      Tokyo’s Android Palace where, they say, men would rather
      see the robot female dancers than the real female dancers.

      I think we may be in for some surprises.

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