One recent news item deserves a post all to itself, if only because it gives me an excuse to post an image from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Last Thursday, the Globe and Mail posted an interview with David Levy, author of Love + Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. The newspaper introduces it by stating: “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.”
A couple of sample questions and answers:
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. . . .
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.
Hmmm, I don’t think Bugs is interested in “loving” the “mechanical” female rabbit above. Maybe an image from a Star Trek episode — especially one from The Next Generation or later, when the franchise got used to the idea of Data and other artificial lifeforms becoming romantically attached and not just sexually involved with humans — would have been more appropriate for this post. But I don’t have any of those shows on DVD, so oh well.
I also don’t have the third season of Futurama on DVD, or else I’d have a picture to go with the quote that forms the title of this post. It’s taken from a robophobic instructional video that appears in the episode ‘I Dated a Robot‘.
This topic also brings to mind A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001; my BCCN review; my CT review), which featured Jude Law as a robot who provides sex and Haley Joel Osment as a robot who supposedly provides love. It’s been a while since I linked to the article that I wrote for the Vancouver Sun on that film, and on the question of whether robots can love — so here is that link again.