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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday September 29 2019, @01:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the johnson-and-not-johnson dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

In recent years, sex dolls have become increasing sophisticated and realistic in their resemblance to human beings, including mechanized components, and are thus now referred to as humanoid sex robots. Some media outlets have gone as far as to suggest that sex robots and other social robots will eventually become almost indistinguishable from humans.

This has sparked a number of interesting ethical and philosophical debates related to the significance of these robots and the possibility that future machines will replicate the physical intimacy between two people. In a recent study featured in Springer's International Journal of Social Robotics, two researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Bergamo in Italy have taken a closer look at some of the current arguments and predictions about sex robots, carrying out an ethics-based and critical discourse analysis.

"We started our joint research to debunk some myths and misunderstandings in the media regarding the future of artificial intelligence," Deborah Johnson and Mario Verdicchio, the two researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. "We were struck by how fundamentally flawed some of the ideas were and especially the assumption that the computational version of some aspects of reality are the same as the real thing."

In their paper, Johnson and Verdicchio essentially challenge the perception of humanoid sex robots as robotic substitutes of lovers and companions. They argue that although humanoid robots may look and act more and more like human beings in the future, the claim that they will eventually replace humans is far-fetched and far from a certainty.

"Our research is aimed at showing that humanoid sex robots could come to be understood in ways that keep their status as machines, albeit technologically very sophisticated machines." Johnson and Verdicchio said.

Deborah G. Johnson et al. Constructing the Meaning of Humanoid Sex Robots, International Journal of Social Robotics (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s12369-019-00586-z


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Sunday September 29 2019, @06:03PM (23 children)

    by hemocyanin (186) on Sunday September 29 2019, @06:03PM (#900437) Journal

    Are there any studies examining the slave relationship of dildos, vibrators, strap-ons, hairbrush handles, or pillows?

    The only people who could have a moral issue with sexbots, are those who view masturbation as a sin. Secondly, it would be just as easy to make a male version as a female version -- perhaps easier when molding issues are taking into consideration because it is more complicated to mold a void than a solid.

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  • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Sunday September 29 2019, @06:35PM (3 children)

    by Nuke (3162) on Sunday September 29 2019, @06:35PM (#900457)

    The only people who could have a moral issue with sexbots, are those who view masturbation as a sin.

    That's a text book example of assuming other people's motives. The real moral issue is that dolls might become a complete substitute for romantic interaction with others, with all the social consequences including practical ones. Masturbation was never much of a threat to that, more like a stop-gap. Whether dolls would ever become a complete substitute, it is too early to tell and that is what most of the debate is about. No doubt there are some fringe groups who see it as sinful but that is not the main debate and you are the first person here to mention sin.

    I'm on the fence myself. I'd rather men and women became more conciliatory to each other IRL than they have become lately, especially in the West. Romantic interaction is already something denied to millions of people for one reason or another. Otherwise dolls may be the way to go.

    Secondly, it would be just as easy to make a male version as a female version

    Catch up, there are male dolls already.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30 2019, @12:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30 2019, @12:45AM (#900631)

      Have you read Richard Feynman's book "Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman" ?
      He has a section in there where a streetwise couple he meets teach him how to pick up women. Very enlightening with regards to current social problems if you stop and really think about it. People haven't evolved in 50 years even if culture has.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday September 30 2019, @07:19PM (1 child)

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday September 30 2019, @07:19PM (#900941) Journal

      The real moral issue is that dolls might become a complete substitute for romantic interaction with others, with all the social consequences including practical ones. Masturbation was never much of a threat to that, more like a stop-gap. Whether dolls would ever become a complete substitute, it is too early to tell and that is what most of the debate is about.

      So what? They want to criminalize men for *not* wanting to have sex with women? Is that what they are seriously proposing? Because that is what sex bots are for men who might choose to use one instead of dealing with a real woman. If that's the path they want to go down, then they must instantly jail every woman who owns or has ever used a dildo or penis-shaped vibrator to simulate sex with a man (and not even a full representation of a man, BTW, but a highly objectified genital object).

      No, this entire thing is not about logic or law or morality but about power. Feminists and others are losing their minds over it because it means they are about to lose their main tool for gaining and keeping power: sex. What really scares them is that men might be on the verge of their own sexual liberation, of getting what they want, how they want, whenever they want, without a real woman being involved or having any say in it whatsoever. That cannot be allowed!

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday September 30 2019, @08:22PM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday September 30 2019, @08:22PM (#900978) Journal

        It could be argued that governments have an interest in compelling reproduction for economic or military reasons. Several countries are attempting to raise birth rates [citylab.com], most notably South Korea, Japan, and China [cnn.com]. If the situation was serious enough, you could see restrictions on sex robots, gay relationships. etc.

        However, while sex robots are a start, artificial wombs are the finisher. Along with synthetic eggs/embryos, they will eventually allow gay men or lesbian women to have children without a biological mother/father [nationalgeographic.com], or a lone individual could create a child with downloadable custom DNA. If birth rates are too low to sustain the economy or military*, governments could just create "orphans" from scratch, a wild turn of events. Artificial wombs probably won't take off until they can be proven to be safer than female wombs, but we can predict some safety benefits: likely the complete elimination of premature births (see causes [healthline.com]), and a reduction of environmental risk factors (the artificial womb won't smoke, drink alcohol, get stressed [npr.org], inhale car exhaust, etc).

        Sex robots take some power away from women, maybe an exaggerated amount. It's the artificial womb that will really hit hard.

        *Or we could see less personnel and more killer robots in the military. But foot soldiers are resistant to hacking, EMPs, etc.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Sunday September 29 2019, @07:14PM (2 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday September 29 2019, @07:14PM (#900475) Journal

    A 1948 college dictionary I looked at has a very short definition for masturbate: "self-pollution".

    Some of the censorship that was done in the 1960s was so ridiculous. The Ed Sullivan Show was constantly censoring the musical acts they presented. "Let's Spend the Night Together" was changed to "Let's Spend Some Time Together". The genie in I Dream of Jeanie couldn't show her belly button. Star Trek was a weird mix of censored and uncensored stuff. How could they get away with those super short mini skirts? And yet, the closest they could hint at a sexual encounter was the captain putting his boot back on. He had already donned all the rest of his clothes. I've heard that Star Trek purposely threw in lots of gratuitous sexualization, to distract the censors. They were so busy censoring the sex that they often missed the political themes they might otherwise have insisted on censoring out. And here and there, some of those sexy distractions also got past them.

    The prudes will make a ruckus about sex robots, just like they have for every other novel thing related to sex. And like Barbra Streisand, by doing so they will probably merely arouse additional interest. And, civilization will not collapse, not because of that.

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday September 30 2019, @03:17PM

      by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Monday September 30 2019, @03:17PM (#900812) Homepage
      Don't forget the infamous against-their-wills inter-racial kiss! (They were like puppets under some kind of mind control, or robots following programming, even, to bring it closer to the topic of the thread.)
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday September 30 2019, @04:46PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 30 2019, @04:46PM (#900857) Journal

      like Barbra Streisand, by doing so they will probably merely arouse additional interest

      OMG!!!! You said "arouse" !!

      --
      The people who rely on government handouts and refuse to work should be kicked out of congress.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29 2019, @08:04PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29 2019, @08:04PM (#900498)

    The only people who could have a moral issue with sexbots, are those who view masturbation as a sin.

    Just wait a few months when President Pence makes this sin a law of the land.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29 2019, @08:23PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29 2019, @08:23PM (#900502)

      "Thou shalt not commit the sin of Onan! Let the heathen spill his seed upon the ground!"

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk [youtube.com]

      (This is why VP Pence never allows himself to alone in a room with Rosy Palm!)

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday October 01 2019, @10:26PM (1 child)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 01 2019, @10:26PM (#901522) Homepage Journal

        Onan's sin was refusing to impregnate his brother's widow.

        • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday October 02 2019, @03:02AM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Wednesday October 02 2019, @03:02AM (#901684) Journal

          Expecting "Christian" jackoffs to know their own religion is an exercise in futility. How do you think we ended up with Christian endorsement of Trump, the guy who basically personifies all of the 7 deadly sins in one ugly, wobbling, day-glo orange body?

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday September 30 2019, @07:21PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday September 30 2019, @07:21PM (#900943) Journal

      Yes, and that's what they have to look forward to if they get rid of Trump.

      The phrase, "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire," springs to mind.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday September 29 2019, @09:17PM (10 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 29 2019, @09:17PM (#900526) Journal

    We still want robots that can cook and clean, right?

    Combine it with the sex robot functions (just avoid food play with hot oil) and good enough™ AI (better dialogue than TES IV: Oblivion), and it becomes a potential threat to the status of females and some males. So there will be a lot of people with the time to write furious think pieces decrying the technology or calling for bans.

    There will be another huge food fight if AI advances to "strong AI" status, in which case it will be compared to slavery again, but would make the robots even more useful. It's entirely possible that we will be able to stack enough advanced neuromorphic chips to fit "strong AI" entirely within the head of a robot.

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by deimtee on Sunday September 29 2019, @10:58PM (2 children)

      by deimtee (3272) on Sunday September 29 2019, @10:58PM (#900584) Journal

      You don't need to fit it all in the head. The AI could mostly be on a server in the corner and control the body by wi-fi. Humans also have a lot of internal space taken up by robotically unnecessary organs so even if you want to go fully portable there is probably an extra 20 litres of so of volume you can use.

      --
      If you cough while drinking cheap red wine it really cleans out your sinuses.
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday September 29 2019, @11:37PM (1 child)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 29 2019, @11:37PM (#900604) Journal

        It's a nice solution and it might be the way to go. But if you can get it all into the body, then you can transport it without also lugging a server around. Connecting the "brain" to the body hundreds of miles away using the internet is inadvisable. Having lower latency between the "brain" and sensors could also be helpful.

        You might want to make a swappable head. In which case you might want the "brain" to be entirely in the head, or entirely somewhere else, likely the torso.

        Setting the human brain (about 1.5 liters) as the goal gives us a target to aim for and lets us make good comparisons. Strong AI could require an entire server room to start out, move down to a single server cabinet that could easily fit in a home, down to 20 liters, 1.5 liters, or even 0.1 liters.

        [insert joke about knowing where to shoot]

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 3, Touché) by Arik on Monday September 30 2019, @04:14AM

          by Arik (4543) on Monday September 30 2019, @04:14AM (#900673) Journal
          "Connecting the "brain" to the body hundreds of miles away using the internet is inadvisable."

          From a technical point of view, sure.

          That's not going to stop it from happening. Particularly when it will be so much more lucrative to do it the other way.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    • (Score: 2) by shortscreen on Sunday September 29 2019, @11:27PM (1 child)

      by shortscreen (2252) on Sunday September 29 2019, @11:27PM (#900599) Journal

      If the robots were advanced enough to cook and clean then you have to worry about them bumping into someone or spilling/dropping things and otherwise creating minor hazards. Lawyers will be all over this and if that doesn't kill the product outright, legislatures will pass insurance and license requirements to own a bot. Nobody who isn't the 1% would even bother with the things then.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday September 29 2019, @11:43PM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 29 2019, @11:43PM (#900605) Journal

        I don't think so. The technology is a much bigger barrier to adoption than liability issues. People want this technology. They could buy it, build it, run third-party free software on it, and there is nobody to (successfully) sue.

        Do it right, and it will never spill or drop anything (on accident, by its own fault).

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Monday September 30 2019, @04:12AM (4 children)

      by Arik (4543) on Monday September 30 2019, @04:12AM (#900672) Journal
      "There will be another huge food fight if AI advances to "strong AI" status, in which case it will be compared to slavery again, but would make the robots even more useful. It's entirely possible that we will be able to stack enough advanced neuromorphic chips to fit "strong AI" entirely within the head of a robot."

      Yeah, nah, that's not the trajectory.

      The 'AI' will be a black box at an undisclosed location. One single 'AI' controlling all the robots. The only hardware they'll need for it is whatever replaces wifi.
      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday September 30 2019, @05:14AM (3 children)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday September 30 2019, @05:14AM (#900694) Journal

        If there is off-the-shelf neuromorphic hardware or another architecture that works, it can't be stopped. 3D stacking will enable a lot of performance in a compact package, and the low power consumption of a neuromorphic design (based on neurons infrequently spiking) would make cooling the hardware easy. We have also been witnessing a movement towards open hardware in recent years.

        We already know that intelligence can arise in a brain-sized package. A sex bot arguably doesn't need "real" intelligence, or could mix a conventional architecture with neuromorphic. But we may be surprised by what becomes possible in a very small volume.

        It doesn't matter if 99% of the sex bot market uses a convenient cloud option instead of local. If it can be done, it will be done. Just look at Linux's tiny but persistent share of desktops. Local AI may even be necessary if your Gorean sex fantasy* or other fetish is a cancellable offense and not permitted by the cloud AI provider or jurisdiction where the provider or user is located.

        I would agree with your pessimism if we take it to the next level: governments ban unauthorized AI hardware out of fear of murderbots [soylentnews.org], Skynet, AI-assisted superhackers, or whatever. Or the Campaign Against Sex Robots succeeds at getting bans or restrictions in place. If we reach a point where certain computers are banned for being too powerful, then it's time for nerds to flip out and burn down some buildings.

        Nice, the author [wikipedia.org] is still writing new books at 88.
        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Monday September 30 2019, @12:54PM (2 children)

          by Arik (4543) on Monday September 30 2019, @12:54PM (#900767) Journal
          "I would agree with your pessimism if we take it to the next level: governments ban unauthorized AI hardware out of fear of murderbots [soylentnews.org], Skynet, AI-assisted superhackers, or whatever. Or the Campaign Against Sex Robots succeeds at getting bans or restrictions in place. "

          That might well happen, but it's not necessarily required.

          Developing these things takes money. There are investors. The investors are likely to demand this even if the government doesn't mandate it.

          Their "AI" will have to stay under their control, reporting to them, increasing their profit by hook or crook.

          "Gorean"

          Have you actually read any of his books?

          Take your basic formula bodice-ripper, pure female fantasy; mix in a dash of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser for flavor (and in an attempt to get more male readers?) and you've pretty much got Gor. If that was the motivation I guess it's somewhat successful, I suspect a male reader is more likely to finish one of John Norman's books than one of Johanna Lindsey's - but not by a very large margin. Personally I find them both a bit ponderous, and frankly too often boring.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?