Tag sex with robots

Peter Singer on Love and Sex with Robots

Peter Singer, one of the most controversial intellectual figures in the world, and yet also the most respected moral philosopher, lends his gravitas to the question that concerns us all the most : How soon will we be humping humanoids and should the femi-nazis and bible bashers allow us to?

In his book Love and Sex with Robots , David Levy goes further, suggesting that we will fall in love with warm, cuddly robots, and even have sex with them. (If the robot has multiple sexual partners, just remove the relevant parts, drop them in disinfectant, and, voilà, no risk of sexually transmitted diseases!) But what will the presence of a “sexbot” do to the marital home? How will we feel if our spouse starts spending too much time with an inexhaustible robotic lover?

Singer is a ‘consequentalist’ philosopher, which means he measures the moral rightness of an action strictly according to the good or bad consequences it has.  His ability to apply this utilitarian logic on to everyday practical moral problems such as abortion, animal rights, and euthanasia, has gained him both his respect as a philosopher and the hatred and fear that his name provokes amongst traditional religious moralists.  For example, whilst arguing that abortion is generally morally acceptable (because the unborn baby is not yet a person and that birth is not a morally significant dividing line), he isn’t afraid to draw out the full implications of his reasoning – that infanticide is also, in certain circumstances at least, also justified.  He has also claimed on similar grounds that killing animals is sometimes more wrong than killing a handicapped infant – an intelligent animal, such as a chimpanzee, might be closer to being a person (a ‘rational’ being) than the mentally handicapped infant ever will, and could experience a meaningful and happy life more than the human infant.  According to Singer, it would be ‘speciest’ to deny otherwise.

In his article ‘Rights for Robots’ that appeared at Project Syndicate, Singer talks about how our propensity to unfairly promote our own species interests above that of others, may lead us to abusing and exploiting even sentient robots :

For the moment, a more realistic concern is not that robots will harm us, but that we will harm them. At present, robots are mere items of property. But what if they become sufficiently complex to have feelings? After all, isn’t the human brain just a very complex machine?

If machines can and do become conscious, will we take their feelings into account? The history of our relations with the only nonhuman sentient beings we have encountered so far – animals – gives no ground for confidence that we would recognize sentient robots not just as items of property, but as beings with moral standing and interests that deserve consideration.

Robots come closer to having the ability to ‘touch’

Scientists are working on giving robots the ability to touch and feel objects by providing them with artificial skin embedded with optical sensors.

The need for robots to acquire such skills is increasing in urgency, now that robots are working with humans in closer environments and in ever more delicate ways – for example in surgery.

“We’re desperate for new materials to let robots be able to feel the world,” says Chris Melhuish of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK. It’s equally important, he says, that artificial skin gives a pressure reading that allows a robot to distinguish between different types of objects and different patterns of forces.

Missinne is hopeful that his skin can do this but has yet to prove it. He presented his latest findings, demonstrating that pressure triggers light to escape from one set of polymer strips to another, at the IMEC Flexible and Stretchable Electronics workshop in Ghent last week.

Sex bots just moved one step closer.

Top 5 Songs about Sex With Robots

Author David Levy believes that we could be having sex with robots in as little as 20 years – even marrying them by the middle of the century.  If this does come true, it will be the fulfilment of a dream held by many for a long, long time, as the following Top 5 Songs about Sex with Robots demonstrates.

Q & A with David Levy – Love and Sex with Robots

David Levy is the author of ‘Love and Sex with Robots’, a book which puts forward the shocking and yet tantalising suggestion that humans will be not only be having sex with ultra-realistic androids in the year 2050, they will also be marrying them.   Scientific American magazine carried a Q&A interview with him last year.  Here is an excerpt :

If people fall in love with robots, aren’t they just falling in love with an algorithm?

 
It’s not that people will fall in love with an algorithm, but that people will fall in love with a convincing simulation of a human being, and convincing simulations can have a remarkable effect on people.

When I was 10, I was in Madame Tussauds waxworks in London with my aunt. I wanted to find someone to get to some part of the exhibition and I saw someone, and it didn’t dawn on me for a few seconds that that person was a waxwork. It had a profound effect on me—that not everything is as it seems, and that simulations can be very convincing. And that was just a simple waxwork.

And if you or others could be taken in just by a wax figure, even for a moment, imagine what a realistic robotic simulation of a person would do. But if people are aware that a robot’s just electronics, won’t that be an obstacle to true love?

By 40 or 50 years, everyone of a marriageable age will have grown up with electronics all around them at home, and not see them as abnormal. People who grow up with all sorts of electronic gizmos will find android robots to be fairly normal as friends, partners, lovers.

I recently read ‘Love and Sex with Robots’ and would recommend it to anybody interested in virtual sex and the future of ‘artificial’ sex.  The only faults I found were that Levy does seem to obfuscate somewhat the distinction between appearing to be conscious, and actually being conscious.  He takes a very dogmatic approach to the Turing test (the test that proposes that if a computer appears convincingly to be conscious, then we should assume it is conscious).  Yet when it comes to actually loving and marrying the things, even the most lonely geek might demand something of a more stringent litmus test.  This somewhat casual approach to robotic consciousness also makes his discussion of the ethics of sex with robots seem even more naive than it probably is.  At one point he speculates rather offhandedly whether law makers and moralists will object to robots being programmed to be submissive sexual partners that never say no.  Surely central to any answer would be whether or not the robots are indeed conscious or not?  And if it is decided that they are, then you can bet your last dollar that the lawmakers and moralists will indeed get involved.

Despite my personal objections to some aspects of his conclusions, Love and Sex with Robots is a truly fascinating and well researched look at what the near future might be bringing to your bedroom.  Click to read the Scientific American article on David Levy – Love and Sex with Robots.

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