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Old 11-19-2007, 12:19 PM   #1
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Romancing the Robot

This weirds me out more than a bit. But apparently it's just because this topic hasn't been discussed in a positive way by the medical community. Would having sex with a robot really be more healthy than being sad and alone?

Romancing the robot
Artificial intelligence? Think artificial nookie. One expert says that by 2050, men and women will be having intimate relations with lifelike machines

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

November 15, 2007 at 8:36 AM EST

This month, artificial intelligence expert David Levy released Love + Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. In the book, he predicts that by 2050, men and women will be enjoying physical and emotional bonds with extremely lifelike, apparently conscious and remarkably suave robots.

Using examples of human-robot interactions from around the world, Dr. Levy - who won the 1997 Loebner Prize for developing conversational software and who earned his PhD with his thesis "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners" - explains why he thinks artificial beings will soon become a source of real companionship and the object of human desire.

In conversation, Dr. Levy explains how machines will make superior lovers and why men should be nervous, but his wife should not.

Which is harder for people to imagine with robots: sex or love?

The love aspect. Most people seem to acknowledge that there are sex dolls that sell at high prices and people clearly enjoy using them, which is the start of the sexual functioning of robots. Since vibrators sell so well, clearly a male sex doll with a vibrating penis will sell better than one without. But I think people will have to wait until the middle of the century to experience true love with robots because conversation is one of the most difficult problems facing artificial intelligence researchers.

You really think women will make the jump from vibrators to robots?

Definitely. Women will be at least as enthusiastic as men. I believe there are reasons at the moment that women don't buy as many dolls, and it's partly that more men have the disposable income necessary and partly because women feel more embarrassed about having a doll. I think once the publicity for sex robots starts in women's magazines like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, women will be queuing up from one end of the country to the other to buy these things.

Won't people be embarrassed to have sex with a robot?

For a very long time people thought masturbation was a terrible sin that brought all kinds of illnesses. But once the medical profession started talking about it in a positive way, and showing that it was actually healthy and normal, attitudes started changing.

Is having sex with a robot healthy and normal?

Absolutely. There are lots of people who find it difficult to find themselves a sex partner. These people are lonely, they're miserable, they may suffer from some sort of psychological deprivation because they're not getting regular satisfactory sex. If large numbers of unhappy people suddenly become happy, it must be good for society in general.

You also suggest that human-robot sex could lead to fewer teenage pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. Do you believe people will choose to have sex with a robot instead of a human partner?

It won't only be people who are lacking a sexual partner. Some people will do it for curiosity, some for fun. If a wife says to the husband, 'Not tonight, I've got a headache,' she could then say, 'Why don't you make it with the robot.' And, traditionally, women worry about their husbands when they go on business trips, but if he's got his robot with him, he doesn't need to go to a nightclub or a strip joint.

You think men would choose not to have affairs if they had R2-D2 in their carry-on?

Some might. What I think will be more likely is hotels will hire them out, just as they're already doing with sex dolls in Japan and [South] Korea. There's a lot of people who pay for sex.

Does the issue of consent come into it at all? Are sex robots anything more than just possessions?

Consent hasn't really come into it much. Would it be rape if your robot said no? If a robot has consciousness, then I believe that how we treat it is important. If we treat a conscious robot in a negative way, then that sends a message that we believe it's okay to treat conscious entities in that way.

You predict that robots will be superior lovers. Doesn't sex require a certain degree of spontaneity?

Spontaneity can be programmed and a robot that contains all knowledge of sexual technique will clearly be a very proficient lover. One problem I do see is that men might feel inhibited or inadequate in some way. If a man knew he was marrying a woman who'd had the most fantastic sex life with a robot before she met him, he might not feel up to the task.

Or he might just try harder.

What he can do is get a female sex robot that can teach him.

Your book says a robot will be able to tell if its partner wants to have sex or just feels like having a glass of wine. If my boyfriend can't make that distinction, how will a robot?

What your boyfriend doesn't have is the electronic monitors for different aspects of your physiology. He can't tell what your heartbeat is, what your temperature is. There all sorts of signs to what kind of mood we're in. As the technology gets more sophisticated, it will be possible for robots to have an even better understanding of our moods.

What does your wife think of your research?

When I first started, she was extremely skeptical about the whole idea of people having emotional or sexual relationships with robots. She thought that anyone who did so would have to be extremely weird. Now that she's read everything, she still believes people would be a bit weird. But she's less of that inclination than before so.

If your predictions about the technology come true, will you be having sex with robots?

I would certainly want to try one just out of curiosity. I don't believe that I would want to keep one for regular interactions because I'm happily married and don't feel the need for one.

And would your wife accept that?

I wouldn't feel like I was cheating on her. We haven't discussed this because it's hypothetical, but I think she would just perceive it as another form of masturbation.

Would you mind if she tried one?

No, no. Why not?

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Old 11-19-2007, 12:39 PM   #2
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I guess robots would be OK for people who have such fantasies as threesomes or rape, since this way they won't be harming anyone; they'll be acting it out on the robot.

But to use it as an alternative for human sexual relationships, I don't think that is a good idea. A person who prefers a robot over a human may not develop any interpersonal skills or intimacy. I mean, I would think a social inept person who doesn't get out much may use the robot, but what does that person get from it besides a few moments of pleasure? There won't be any real intimacy.

As for programing the robots to have interpersonal skills, I still think something would be lacking emotionally there. Also, it is not a real relationship. In a real relationship, you deal with personality conflicts, emotional conflicts and so on. I get the impression that these robots would be programmed to be what its owner wants it to be, along with an on-off switch.

Really, I don't think its healthy to stunt emotional and interpersonal growth.

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Old 11-19-2007, 01:06 PM   #3
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Yeah Diamond brought this up not to long ago(similar article) wondering if people will be wanting to marry robots too. He didn't seem to understand you buy them and they can't consent, because they aren't human...

To me it's just an overdeveloped sex toy, nothing really wrong with it, but do you really need a sex toy that needs it's own seperate closet...
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Old 11-19-2007, 01:08 PM   #4
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Not quite as bad as a bike but whatever...
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Old 11-19-2007, 01:18 PM   #5
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Originally posted by elevated_u2_fan
Not quite as bad as a bike but whatever...
Oh, but what if it was a transformer that transformed into a bike?
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Old 11-19-2007, 01:19 PM   #6
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar

Oh, but what if it was a transformer that transformed into a bike?
holy shit! dude, you just blew my mind...
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Old 11-19-2007, 05:54 PM   #7
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
Oh, but what if it was a transformer that transformed into a bike?

I personally have no desire to ever form an intimate relationship with a robot and find the whole idea odd. However, should this become more commonplace, if that's what someone else wants to do...*Shrugs*. Their business, I don't really care. But I think Pearl's post was spot on.

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Old 11-19-2007, 06:04 PM   #8
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I think it's funny to talk about inability to form interpersonal relationships via a thread on an internet fan site.

My Mom's boss has a blow-up doll that he takes with him when he travels, so he has someone to sleep with. Now he can have a robot if he wants, though, not sure you can travel the robot....unless it transformed into a train, like Astrotrain, instead of a bike.
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Old 11-21-2007, 02:01 AM   #9
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robots are hot
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Old 11-21-2007, 12:12 PM   #10
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I dunno. There are people in the world who don't really need or crave interpersonal relationships and the like. Why get up in arms about this?

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