Episode 18 - Human-Robot Love

Episode 18 - Human-Robot Love

Postby Sabine Hauert on 30 Jan 2009, 11:16

Download here: Episode 18 - Robots: Human-Robot Love

In this episode we talk about a subject that doesn't always come to mind when you think of robots: love and relationships. Our first guest David Levy is the author of the book Love and Sex with Robots which has received wide media attention in the past year because it predicts that humans and robots will soon engage in genuine relationships, both physical and emotional.

We then speak to robot anthropologist Kathleen Richardson from Cambridge about her review of Levy's book and her take on the meaning and likeliness of human-robot couples.

David Levy
David Levy is best known for his many years as a Scottish International Master of Chess, but it's his recent doctoral thesis entitled "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners" at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands that has been getting him extensive media coverage lately. In an unusual combination of psychology, sociology and robotics Levy studied the dynamics of sex and relationships between humans and robots.

Levy tells us about his belief that robots will soon become a ubiquitous part of our society, and it will be common for people to have relationships and even marry their robotic partners. He explains the dynamics of relationships and sex as he sees them, and how they can be extended to relations with artificial partners or robots as they become more advanced and life-like. Finally he tells us in his own words what he hopes that people take away from his latest book Love and Sex with Robots.

Kathleen Richardson
Kathleen Richardson recently completed her doctoral studies in the department of social anthropology at the University of Cambridge during which she conducted fieldwork in robotic labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her thesis, "Annihilating Difference? Robots and Building Design at MIT", examined the breakdown of boundaries between humans and non-humans through a study of robots. She has also given several talks on human-robot relationships and her work has been featured in the New York Times.

She'll be presenting her review of David Levy's book "Love + Sex with Robots" and will tell us why genuine love relationships between humans and robots are mostly unfounded speculations grounded in science fiction fantasies. She also discusses the attachment that humans can feel for "things" and the ambiguities that might raise.

Links:
robots... barrets... brass... bizzare... razor... aura... amora
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Sabine Hauert
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Robot LUuuuuuuUUUUv!

Postby MikePett on 31 Jan 2009, 02:52

Honk Honk!

I just want to point out that Kathleen Richardson HAS to be more fun than she sounded on this podcast.

I for one applaud the creation of devices that will keep people who have no business out in the clubs home on a friday night.

David Levy is doing important work for the whole of humankind and we should support and fund him generously.

And yet Ms. Richardson did have a really good point that all this discussion was moot because there is a quantum leap to be made in A.I. before any of this is anything more than elaborate puppetry. Perhaps there will be more results in the area of remote operation technology in the adult entertainment industry?

Joking aside I would like to point out that your podcast fell prey to the same mistake that everyone who discusses sex related subjects makes in leaning way toward heterosexuality and mainstream ideas of 'relationship' when discussing these issues. In fact it seemed to me to be almost completely focused on the male perspective, interests and appetites. In keeping with the idea that robotics in general and robots as relating to the sexual arena are 'leading edge' areas and concepts, why be so myopic? Come on, we have grown to expect more of you guys, I mean... people, persons.

Thanks!

Mike
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Re: Robot LUuuuuuuUUUUv!

Postby Johnny 5 on 04 Feb 2009, 01:00

MikePett wrote:Perhaps there will be more results in the area of remote operation technology in the adult entertainment industry?


You mean telepresence, like phone sex with a bluetooth vibrator? Now there's a start-up idea!


MikePett wrote:Joking aside I would like to point out that your podcast fell prey to the same mistake that everyone who discusses sex related subjects makes in leaning way toward heterosexuality and mainstream ideas of 'relationship' when discussing these issues. In fact it seemed to me to be almost completely focused on the male perspective, interests and appetites. In keeping with the idea that robotics in general and robots as relating to the sexual arena are 'leading edge' areas and concepts, why be so myopic? Come on, we have grown to expect more of you guys, I mean... people, persons.


It's an easy mistake to make, or is it? I guess the question you are raising is if the porno industry rakes in most of its profits from the "heterosexuality and mainstream" you mention, or not.

A 2008 article cited on wikipedia valued the sex toy industry at USD 15 billion, with a growth rate of 30% (although a 2001 Forbes article includes a warning that "[Pornography] is an industry where they exaggerate the size of everything."). Compare that to Hollywood, which the Forbes article puts at USD 31 billion, and you get a notion of the size we are talking about. :shock:

That's big. Very big. At this point, the question keeping us awake at night, though, is: How big is the robotics market in that segment?
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