Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Romancing the Bot


You probably missed it, but back in 2008 International Chessmaster David Levy wrote a book titled Love and Sex with Robots. Not just a chess expert, Wikipedia says Levy has written over 40 books, mostly on computer chess.

I missed it, probably because even though I was heavily into the links between computing, consciousness, artificial intelligence, robots, and mind/brain, I saw nothing of his book or work. (Or even his 2005 book, Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age).

When I learned of this book last week, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it in any book I’d read. Its Amazon page gave no references to any current work in the above-mentioned fields.

Last week was when I began Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together (2011) and found mention of Levy’s book. Since I was posting about real versus virtual, why not add human and non-human?

I’ve known sex robots were around the corner, but love? Is he kidding? Anyway, these sex devices are much closer to their blow-up predecessors than anything human-like. Or they were.

The makers of “the world’s first sex robot,” Roxxxy, say it’s no more than a “life-size rubber doll . . . designed to engage the owner with conversation rather than lifelike movement.”

Introduced at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas this month, for less than ten large, Roxxy sounds far less satisfactory than the eponymous Her, of the new Spike Jonze movie.

No robot or real woman could compete with the fictional, idealized Her. This is a computer not only “designed to meet his every need,” but one that is also “human and intuitive.”

Human and intuitive software? Why put it in anything less than artificial humans? For “companions” you can touch and vice versa, see 1987’s Cherry 2000. So why talk with a computer?

The real question for us is, are we becoming less human by romancing the bot? Every year, we retreat further from the world. Can we continue and not become slaves of the machine?

Oh, did I forget to mention that David Levy believes these robots should not only be loved and laid but married! If he has his way, what’s next? Toasters going on strike for their rights?

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