Mmmm mmm… Love me some red headed robot woman. In this amoral blog, my collegue concluded that the individual act of sex with a bot is amoral. But of course, there is more to the story.
The DigiSexual revolution
In a recent study in Britain – “more than one in ten men and women would romp with a ROBOT – and a similar number would use a remote-control sex toy”.
Using modern math calculations, thats over 10% of the population! Red headed or not – some humans seem to like the idea of doing the dirty with the Terminator. People that prefer to have sex with robots over humans are known as DigiSexuals … and there seems to be a movement.
A Jan 2019 article NYT reported on robot love:
…the idea that flesh-and-blood humans may actually forge fulfilling emotional, or even sexual, relationships with digital devices is no longer confined to dystopian science fiction movies like “Ex Machina” and “Her,” stories in which lonely techies fall too hard for software-driven femme fatales.
In real life, pioneers of human-android romance now have a name, “digisexuals,” which some academics and futurists have suggested constitutes an emergent sexual identity.
These DigiSexuals are a real thing. People are falling in love with Robots at an alarming rate! They go on to say:
In 2016 a Frenchwoman identified only as “Lilly” told the media that “I’m really and only attracted by the robots.” She claimed to be engaged to a 3-D-printed robot she had designed, and said, “My only two relationships with men have confirmed my love orientation, because I dislike really physical contact with human flesh.”
In 2017, after failing to find a human spouse, an artificial intelligence engineer in China named Zheng Jiajia married (not legally, of course) a robot wife of his own design named Yingying that can reportedly read Chinese characters at a rudimentary level and speak simple words.
Is this a precursor to the end of the human race? Will the technology get so good that we start to prefer it? Will we just start bonking robots to the exclusion of our own kind? What will this do to our population? The easy prediction is a massive population decline over a single generation. This is explored more deeply here.
Beat me up, beat me down – the rise of Robicide
But there is another trend that is equally disturbing and somewhat orthogonal to this. Apparently we also like to beat our robots up! In this NYT’s article there are many examples given:
A hitchhiking robot was beheaded in Philadelphia. A security robot was punched to the ground in Silicon Valley. Another security bot, in San Francisco, was covered in a tarp and smeared with barbecue sauce.
Why do people lash out at robots, particularly those that are built to resemble humans? It’s a global phenomenon. In a mall in Osaka, Japan, three boys beat a humanoid robot with all their strength. In Moscow, a man attacked a teaching robot named Alantim with a baseball bat, kicking it to the ground, while the robot pleaded for help.
Robots can get some respite by begging for thier life apparently. In another study German researchers noted that people have a hard time shutting a robot down when they beg:
In 43 cases, the Verge reported earlier this month, “the robot protested, telling participants it was afraid of the dark and even begging: ‘No! Please do not switch me off!'” As the researchers predicted, participants struggled to switch the machine—which they had previously worked with as a partner—off. Thirty of the humans took twice as long on average to turn off the robots compared to the group whose robots said nothing at all. And 13 people refused to comply altogether, leaving Nao (the robot) on.
There are studies that have shown that this behavior starts from an early age.
In a paper entitled “Why Do Children Abuse Robots?,” researchers interviewed kids that had been observed beating up robots in an experiment performed at a mall in Japan.
When questioned, 74 percent of the kids described the robot as “human-like” and only 13 percent as “machine-like.” Half of them said that they believed that their behavior was “stressful or painful” for the robot.
So basically, most of these kids perceive the robot they’re abusing as lifelike, and then just go ahead and abuse it anyway.
Combining our passions
So we beat them and we boink them. But what happens if we try both? Are robots to become the recipients of our darkest desires? Will we play weird asphyxiation games with robots? Will we beat, whip and sexually abuse them because we can? One man may have an answer. Sergio Santos is a Spanish Roboticist that developed a $2500 Sexbot.
…Sergi Santos said that his $2,500 robot helped strengthen his marriage by giving him a safe, dependable outlet when his wife was not in the mood. “A man wants to feel in general that the woman is desperate to have sex with him,” he said in a recent video interview with Barcroft TV, a web documentary channel.
However – at a trade show where Mr. Santo’s was displaying his wares, there was an incident that caused him to develop some new technology.
During an Austrian technology fair in 2017, a version of Dr. Santos’s Samantha doll reportedly responded, “I’m fine,” after a group of men mounted it roughly, leaving it soiled and damaged.
Dr. Santos is working on a new version of Samantha that will be programmed to shut down when the sex gets too aggressive.
So while some scientist are developing technology to satisfy our sexual desires, it remains to be seen if it can be augmented to thwart our deepest darkest sickest instincts. Are robots more like “us” or something “different”. In the NYT article about robot abuse, Agnieszka Wykowska, a cognitive neuroscientist, and researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology and the editor in chief of the International Journal of Social Robotics makes this point.
“You have an agent, the robot, that is in a different category than humans,” she said. “So you probably very easily engage in this psychological mechanism of social ostracism because it’s an out-group member. That’s something to discuss: the dehumanization of robots even though they’re not humans.”
So our tendency to “dehumanize robots comes from the instinct to anthropomorphize them”.
As we have seen above the need to love robots is related to the latter instinct (anthropomorphizing robots), while our desire to dehumanize (beat them, whip them) comes from that same desire ultimately.
So here is the question. When you meet that pretty red haired robot how will you act?
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