Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Flawless Robot Lover - Tenjo Night

Romantic human-robot relationships are no longer the stuff of science fiction—researchers expect them to become reality within four decades. And they do not mean simply, mechanical sex.

“I am talking about loving relationships about 40 years from now,” David Levy, author of the book “Love + sex with robots,” said at an international conference held last week at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

“When there are robots that have also emotions, personality, consciousness. They can talk to you, they can make you laugh. They can say they love you just like a human would say ‘I love you’, and say it as though they mean it.”

Robots as sex toys should already be on the market within five years, predicted Levy, “a sort of an upgrade of the sex dolls on sale now.”

These would have electronic speech and sensors that make them utter “nice sounds” when a human caresses their “erogenous zones.”

But to build robots as real partners would take a bit longer, with conversation skills being the main obstacle for developers.

Scientists were working on artificial personality, emotion and consciousness, said Levy, and some robots already appear lifelike.

“But for loving relationships—that is something completely different. In loving relationships there are many more things that are important. And the most difficult of all is conversation.

“You want your robot to be able to talk to you about what is interesting to you. You want a partner who has some similar interest to you, who talks to you in a manner that pleases you, who has a similar sense of humor to you.”

The field of human-computer conversation is crucial to building robots with whom humans could fall in love, but is lagging behind other areas of development, said the author.

“I am sure it will happen. In 40 years ... perhaps sooner. You will find robots, conversation partners, that will talk to you and you will get as much pleasure from it as talking to another human. I am sure of it.”

Levy’s bombshell thesis, whose publication has had a ripple-effect way beyond the scientific community, gives rise to a number of complicated ethical and relationship questions.

British scholar Dylan Evans pointed out the paradox inherent to any relationship with a robot.

“What is absolutely crucial to the sentiment of love, is the belief that the love is neither unconditional nor eternal.

“Robots cannot choose you, they cannot reject you. That could become very boring, and one can imagine the human becoming cruel against his defenseless partner”, said Evans.

A robot could conceivably be programmed with a will of its own and the ability to reject his human partner, he said, “but that would be a very difficult robot to sell”.

For full story

It seems the theme of the Japanese series Zettai Kareshi is coming true at all. I admit in the physical aspect of a relationship the robots would be unequaled but emotionally I don't think so. Even humans are having problems with this. Love is a very complex emotion after all. Making someone fall in love is very difficult thing even for us humans unless your surname is De Marco or Rizal.

In the long run can a robot develop organic feeling not derived from its program? This is an idea advanced in the film Bicentennial Man (starring Robin Williams). I don't know time will tell (I hope not for there are many disillusioned women out there who are more likely to choose a robot with feelings than robotic men. Oh no not another competition! Hey, I'm passionate just to make things clear.).

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