As predictable as clockwork,
Or some finely crafted gears—
We forget about the last one
So the latest one appears
It’s designed to gather eyeballs
Both to titillate and vex—
It’s an article (with pictures)
Probing human-robot sex
Yup… this time, it’s the BBC with “Will we ever want to have sex with robots?“. In 2007, the now-defunct Cognitive Daily asked “Will humans marry robots in 50 years”, which prompted this bit of musing from me. In 2009, the big news was HRP-4C (also mentioned in the Beeb’s current piece), which also got its (her?) own verse here. I may have missed the 2011 version, or perhaps I just reposted the old verses… but now enough time has passed that we are once again being asked if or when people will be having sex with robots.
But something is different this time. In 2007… well, here, something from today’s piece:
In 2007, the British chess player and artificial intelligence (AI) expert David Levy said in his book, Love and Sex with Robots, we would be having sex with robots in five years – and be capable of falling in love with them within 40 years.
His argument is based on improvements in robotic engineering and computer programming – and extrapolating from the income generated by the porn industry each year.
Such robots would be a “terrific service” for mankind, he argued.
Well… a terrific service, in that it finally rids us of the need to treat our sexual partners as human beings. Because that is a huge, pressing problem, and the way to address it is not to teach us how to treat one another properly (really, honestly, is it too much to expect people to find enthusiastic consent sexy?) but to invest in machines that allow us to have absolute control instead.
But… for once, the old faithful story addresses this, just a bit:
“It is time to reconsider the premise that a robot is better than nothing,” says Sherry Turkle, psychologist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Because, if you are trying to solve the problem of care and companionship with a robot, you are not trying to solve it with the people you need to solve it with – friends, family, community.”
There’s a bit more there, but they did the job of writing it, so you can give them the traffic.