14 January 2010

Machineries of joy

Recently several blogs have posted bemused entries on Roxxxy the sex robot (recently unveiled at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in las Vegas), and somewhat earlier a few similarly posted about Aiko (not a commercial product but the hobby of Canadian inventor Le Trung). These are basically high-tech sex dolls with AI that gives them a limited ability to talk and, in Aiko's case, move. There are bound to be more such robots, and more sophisticated ones, over time as AI becomes cheaper and more advanced. Just about every new media technology that comes along, from paint to photography to film to video to the internet, has been adapted for pornography and has proven profitable when used for that purpose; the continuation of this trend with AI and robotics is hardly surprising.

What interests me about this phenomenon is not so much the robots themselves as the consensus response to them. A majority of comments take it for granted that anyone who would actually use such a robot must be pathetic, nerdy, socially disfunctional, too unattractive to find a real partner (or too timid to try), etc.

I find this reaction curious. The trend for decades has been toward ever-greater acceptance of sexual behavior which deviates from convention but is not coercive or harmful, such as homosexuality, pre-marital or extra-marital sex, etc. More relevantly, everyone knows that some people (and not as few as we might think) choose to live without a sexual relationship for significant periods of time; some lack the attractiveness, gumption, or social skills needed to find a real partner, some have unrealistically high standards, some just prefer not to deal with the complexities that such a relation- ship involves. Voluntary celibates are not generally viewed as pathetic or laughable (certainly not in the case of women).

Moreover, everyone realizes that most people who are not in a sexual relationship masturbate sometimes -- and for that matter, many people who are in such a relationship do as well. And many people use pictures or implements to assist in doing so -- just look at the size and profitability of the industries which supply those things. This is not something most people ever discuss in normal conversation (nor are the details of people's sexual interaction with actual partners), but just about everyone would acknowledge the truth of it after a moment's reflection. Sex robots are just an extension of the same practice.

So why do Roxxxy and Aiko cross a line? Why do they make some people (I'm interpreting here, but I think it's true) nervous?

The question isn't going away. The profitability of internet porn shows that erotica becomes more attracive as technological progress makes it more realistic and accessible, no matter how much people fulminate about it. Sex robots will also become more appealing as AI approaches the sophistication and subtelty of actual human minds (and that is years, not decades or centuries, away), and as prices come down, they will become more common. In a decade or two this will probably be looked upon the way things like unmarried cohabitation or voluntary celibacy are looked upon now -- an option, not better or worse, just different.


Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Ranch Style Greeting's Mr.Infidel!

My compliment's on the title of this posting ... that is exactly what they are.

I have visited a few blog's on this subject, left a couple comment's even, and to be frank, was astonished of the reaction and some opinion's about these critter's. I reckon being that many of these folk's who have such up tight view's of these, call themselves "liberated". I am not quite sure what it is, and it is too lengthy of a subject for me to elaborate on here, but there seem's to be some sex phobia that almost seem's genetic amongst a large portion of the masses, and an incredible amount of denial, hypocrisy, and a real stereotype view of sex entertainment, and those who seek it. For someone like me .... it just seem's very strange ... I am not a "liberal" ... and mostly because I find the definition of what is liberal as phoney, insulting and nauseating .... because anyone who is "liberal" or claim's to be ... I dont understand how they would feel so uneasy about something as common as sexuality? The same with those who call themselves "conservative" or " moralist's" or whatever their called ... I question their definition of "conservative". I'll just shut up now .... because it's all too confusing to me,I just am thankful that I never thought like this ... and my heart goes out to those that are psychologically enslaved in such a fashion.

Thank You Sir ...... and great posting!

14 January, 2010 05:54  
Anonymous rita said...

I would assume in the history of human sexual behavior the desires that bring about these types of innovations/contraptions or whatever one wants to call them has always been around...as you say, it's hardly surprising.
I also think it's hardly surprising and even normal for some people to be nervous & or repelled by the idea.
It has been my experience, what one normal person finds perfectly acceptable, another normal person can be totally turned off or even repulsed by with a gut reaction, that doesn't seem to have any logical reason that they can pinpoint. Why is that?
My guess is, it has to do with boundaries, both personal & societal(?).

15 January, 2010 07:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC: Thanks -- I knew you'd understand:-)

Rita: I think everyone can think of at least a few sexual practices they are personally repulsed by. The thing is, this is normally only an issue when sex partners have different preferences.

Say A and B are in a sexual relationship, and one day A suddenly wants to try, say, buggery, and person B finds the idea repulsive. In that case, obviously there's a problem.

The thing about sex robots is that (with, I suppose, rare exceptions), the use of them would be a solitary pursuit. In this case, B is freaking out over something that A wants to do alone, without B being involved at all. That seems odd to me.

15 January, 2010 08:46  
Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Well, OK, now we have Roxxy. When are we going to have Johnny? The men have viagra and the women are left with nothing - again.

15 January, 2010 18:01  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Supposedly Roxxxy's manufacturer has a male robot in the works. It'll be interesting to see how much demand there is. It'll be even more interesting to see if there's as much of that hostility and putting-down directed against women who use robots as against men who do. At the moment I can't even guess.

15 January, 2010 18:45  
Blogger Rita said...

I understand what you are saying & of course you can't exploit a robot or abuse one. My conscience is clear. :)

& BTW, women are not "left with nothing". A huge part of that market already caters to women.
I would suspect not nearly as many women would buy "Rod" the sex robot as men buying Roxxy, though.

16 January, 2010 08:54  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I would suspect not nearly as many women would buy "Rod" the sex robot as men buying Roxxy, though.

I suspect you're right about that -- at least until robots get much closer to the intelligence and emotional sophistication of actual humans.

16 January, 2010 09:20  

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