December 13, 2007
David Levy Sees Sexbots In Our Future

British artificial intelligence researcher expects in a few decades time robots will become highly desirable partners in relationships.

Levy is an expert in artificial intelligence. He is fascinated with the idea of "love and sex with robots," and his visions of the future include "malebots" and "fembots" as lovers and life partners. A chess champion and the president of the International Computer Games Association, Levy, 62, has just published a book, "Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships" -- that is provocative in the truest sense of the word. He is convinced that human beings will be having sex with robots one day. They will show us sexual practices that we hadn't even imagined existed. We will love them and respect them, and we will entrust them with our most intimate secrets. All of this, says Levy, will be a reality in hardly more than 40 years from now.

I can understand how relationships with artificial intelligences could be very satisfying. An artificial intelligence could be programmed to have similar values and interests and to be very patient and engaging. But I do not expect robots to become sexually attractive unless materials for robot construction become so advanced that robots can look very like humans.

But will robots find us attractive as companions?

"The mere concept of an artificial partner, husband, wife, friend or lover is one that, for most people at the start of the 21st century, challenges their notion of relationships," says Levy. "But my thesis is this: Robots will be hugely attractive to humans as companions because of their many talents, senses and capabilities." Given rapid developments in technology, Levy believes that it is only a matter of time before machines will be capable of offering human-like traits. According to Levy, "love and sex with robots on a grand scale are inevitable."

Also, will robots be autonomous or will they be part of large collective minds? Will the machines moving around have their own self-contained artificial intelligences and autonomy? Or will they be so closely connected into massive stationary AI computers that there won't be all that many distinct separate artificial intelligences to have relationships with?

I'm thinking humans will find their ideal mates by genetically engineering them.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 December 13 09:40 PM  Transhumans Posthumans

HellKaiserRyo said at December 13, 2007 9:55 PM:

I hope an benevolent AI would take over and become dictator of humanity. Humanity is unable to solve the hard problems of poverty. I really do. I do not trust humans to solve the world's problems.

David Govett said at December 13, 2007 11:26 PM:

Or we could engineer out of ourselves the need for a mate. You first.

rsilvetz said at December 14, 2007 12:33 AM:

Let's see. Poverty. Primarily caused and propagated by governments. Maybe we could get rid of them instead?

As to the sexbot premise. No. If it was artificially conscious, we can talk. Artificial intelligence? Don't waste my time. There's no receptor on the other end.... who wants to talk to a toaster...

HellKaiserRyo said at December 14, 2007 12:56 AM:

Replace government bureucracy with a bevolent AI as adminstrator, sounds like a good idea. At least he would have the processing power to make good decisions.

Mthson said at December 14, 2007 2:32 AM:

"who wants to talk to a toaster..."
Hmm.. if the toaster was smarter than myself, I would value its opinions.

Fat Man said at December 14, 2007 4:34 AM:

"He is convinced that human beings will be having sex with robots one day."

Geek boy needs to stop surfing p0rn sites and get out of his Mom's basement more.

a very small shellscript said at December 14, 2007 5:45 AM:

All of this, says Levy, will be a reality in hardly more than 40 years from now.

Cool, it's getting closer. Or at least not further away.

The Progress of Robotics
In the fifties, it was predicted that in five years robots would be everywhere.
In the sixties, it was predicted that in ten years robots would be everywhere.
In the seventies, it was predicted that in 20 years robots would be everwhere.
In the eighties, it was predicted that in 40 years robots would be everywhere...

Brett Bellmore said at December 14, 2007 6:08 AM:

"unless materials for robot construction become so advanced that robots can look very like humans."

There's a bit of work needed as yet on control of facial features, but today's high end sex dolls are pretty darned realistic. I could see Honda's work on humanoid robots, and the Japanese sex doll industry, converging in a robot, android really, that's difficult to tell from human, and which optionally had the appropriate plumbing.

Indeed, given the sort of manga and anime this generation of Japanese engineers were fond of, if there isn't an android cat-girl project at Honda, I'll be shocked. ;)

The current technological issue, I'd say, is that they haven't gotten the mechanics of a humanoid robot compact enough to fit inside a slim human frame, with enough silicone padding to not be obvious. NOT that good enough silicone padding and fake skin isn't available. And that's mostly for lack of trying, I think, since the emphasis has been on control algorithms, not looks. Though these people are doing some work there:

Sex-bots are definately technologically feasible in the near term, the question is social acceptance.

Acton said at December 14, 2007 8:25 PM:

I thought I saw Helkyseryo bending over the back end of an Asimo the other day, but I could have been mistaken. It was foggy out, and I was rushing to the theatre. My spectacles had accumulated a film of moisture, so my vision was not the best.

Yes, my toaster houses a fine AGI--50 10,000 core processors in 3-dimension wireless netted. Its 5 year economic plans are second to none of those produced in the old USSR. Fine work, yes. AI's, they is de master race.

Cedric Morrison said at December 15, 2007 10:14 AM:

There are already rather impressive looking sex dolls. Some of them are already getting wired for sound. The market is there and obvious to whomever looks. I suspect that the demand for a sex doll that can actually move even semi-realistically would be intense. In short, I predict the sex-robot market will exactly parallel the robotics market in general and do so long before robots become intelligent.

Next, if you have never done so, go to one of the online sex toy stores and look around. (Good Vibrations, for one, is reasonably tasteful.) Note that there are at least as many sex toys aimed at women as there are at men. Note that vibrators have become common enough that they are fodder for jokes on television. Conclusion: women do not have any inborn revulsion toward sex toys and, in fact, sex toys for women are mainstream.

Right now, sex dolls are almost exclusively marketed to men. Get one that gives an at least semi-realistic experience with motion and feedback loops, and I strongly suspect that women will demand sex robots, too. If women are demanding them, they are no longer a kinky fetish object or a surrogate for sad losers; they are normal. Hell, there will be articles in the women's magazines urging their readers to try them and giving advice on how to "Choose the Best Sexbot for You!" Feminists will declare sexbots to be empowering.

epobirs said at December 15, 2007 12:58 PM: appears to already have a head start on this field. They're expensive but the number of well earning men and women (yes, realdoll has male versions shown on the site) living alone is higher than ever before. The realdolls have no powered movement capability but it's only a matter of time. Medical research into areas like prosthetics will be adapted as soon as a viable market is believed to exist. Genuine AI is probably not needed for an effective interactive sexbot. Falling in lust with a bot will come before falling in love.

How long before a CSI episode has a victim murdered via sabotaged sexbot? I doubt it would be strong enough to harm the user but the potential for electrocution...

Julian Morrison said at December 15, 2007 2:15 PM: is pretty impressive too.

Confluence of 3 technologies. (1) sex dolls (2) walking, balancing robots (3) Artificial intelligence.

1 is solved, 2 is very close to being solved, only 3 is holding the game up.

Rain And said at December 15, 2007 6:33 PM:

Gigolo Joe: Woman? I know women! They sometimes ask for me by name. I know all about women. About as much as there is to know. No two are ever alike, And after they've met me, no two are ever the same.

Gigolo Joe: ...once you've had a lover-robot you'll never want a real man again.

TGGP said at December 17, 2007 10:10 PM:

I briefly discussed the issue and provided some related links here.

carefulreader said at August 1, 2009 4:56 PM:

a benevolent A.I.? think about it, the benevolent A.I. will make "Benevolent Bots" who will take care of us for the rest of our lives, so much so that we will end up being prisoners in our own homes because "it's too unsafe outside, the UV rays will kill you, let me do the job, let me do the cooking and the feeding, all you do is eat and sleep." tell me guys, is this really the world you want to live in? I don't know about you, but I don't want to give up the ability to walk outside for a stroll just because a bot says that it is too dangerous......

Maybe you're giving the A.I. a bit too much credit, oh no, i don't have anything against A.I., i love the progress and i wish it were faster, but i think, by the time we're done completely developing an A.I. capable of human complexities, what we would have created then, are nothing more than mechanical mirrors of ourselves, get me? I'm all for making both robot and human friends, live would be exciting to say the least! They'd do the space exploration for us (some are already doing it!) heck, if possible i myself want to be a half-human, half-robot cyborg.

But the thing is, having a benevolent A.I., for very valid reasons, sends unwelcome chills down my spine.

as for making love with robots? hmm........i wouldn't try doing it until i'm perfectly sure that it's not some assassination sex-bot that will rip my gun into shreds as soon as i enter it...........yeah, i have a pretty wild imagination. but hey, anything is possible right?

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