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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, 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.

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  • (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.

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    • (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]

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      • (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.
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  • (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).

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  • (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.
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    • (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.
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      • (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.
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