Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Love and Sex with Robots by David Levy

For those of you who think that people will not eventually have love and have sex with robots, you should read this book. For those of you who already think that people have sex with robots and will continue to do so and love them, you can probably skim this book.
The first part of the book examines why humans love at all and then provides arguments to persuade that we will also do this with robots. A similar approach is taken to the second part, which deals with sex. In the love section, examples of how people become attached to electronic objects and toys, as well as the affection and anthropomorphizing of animals, are mentioned frequently. In the more interesting sex section, the reader gets a history of sex toys, their various uses and how artificial sex technologies are only increasing in sophistication and realism. The most surprising thing I learned was that there are escort services in Japan and Korea that use dolls instead of humans. And that information is now 4 years old! It is also fascinating to think of how homosexual acts (and oral sex) are accepted by the state as part of a marriage in the same places where years ago would have been crimes punishable by death. The long view can certainly assuage pessimism on occasion, a tactic further validated by absurdity of the state of Virgina only removing a law prohibiting relations between unmarried, heterosexual couples in 2005!
Barring economic collapse or an inability to extend computing technologies beyond the current transistor system that will be exhausted in 8-10 years, I think robots and nanotechnology will create incredible experiences, hopefully more wonderful than terrible, in the following decades for those privileged enough to have access. In an otherwise worthwhile overview, Levy fails to give sufficient attention to the potentially dramatic implications of human-robot romantic and sexual relations.* For example, what will happen to communities and families if members of the human race no longer need to impress, engage or compromise with other members for their relationship needs? To be fair, in the conclusion he does raise many interesting questions/concerns (e.g., should the age of consent for sex with a robot be the same as it is for a person? Will sex with a robot within a marriage be constructive or destructive? Can a human rape a sexbot?).
Levy might also win for having the most interesting sentence I've read in a book this year: "Think back for a moment to Net Michelle's orgasmic experience, created by Thrillhammer via teledildonic interface."
In summation, people will love and have sex with robots. This book will convince or elaborate, depending on your current state of agreement.
*Think of the Futurama episode if you’ve seen it! If not, you really should watch this clip 


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