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Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Brave New World of Sex Robots

Mark Wolverton
undark.org
Originally posted March 29, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

But as the technology develops apace, so are a host of other issues, including political and social ones (Why such emphasis on feminine bots rather than male? Do sexbots really need a “gender” at all?); philosophical and ethical ones (Is sex with a robot really “sex”? What if the robots are sentient?); and legal ones (Does sex with a robot count as cheating on your human partner?)

Many of these concerns overlap with present controversies regarding AI in general, but in this realm, tied so closely with the most profound manifestations of human intimacy, they feel more personal and controversial. Perhaps as a result, Devlin has a self-admitted tendency at times to slip into somewhat heavy-handed feminist polemics, which can overshadow or obscure possible alternative interpretations to some questions — it’s arguable whether the “Blade Runner” films have “a woman problem,” for example, or whether the prevalence of sexbots with idealized and identifiably feminine aesthetics is solely a result of “male objectification.”

Informed by her background as a computer scientist, Devlin provides excellent nuts-and-bolts technical explanations of the fundamentals of machine learning, neural networks, and language processing that provide the necessary foundation for her explorations of the subject, whose sometimes sensitive nature is eased by her sly sense of humor.

The info is here.

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