ROBOTS | The Knowledge Dynasty

ROBOTS

Should we ban sex robots while we have the chance? | Jenny Kleeman

“AI sex dolls are on their way, with potentially sinister social consequences. So before they hit the market, we must ask whether they should,” writes robotics expert Jenny Kleeman.

sex robots

 

People are blowing a fuse about sex robots or rather, rape robots. Journalists from the New Statesman and the New York Times among others have all reported on the sex robot Roxxxy TrueCompanions controversial Frigid Farrah setting: a mode in which she has been programmed to resist sexual advances and which will allow men to act out rape fantasies.

Women’s rights activists have lined up to condemn Roxxxy. Everyday Sexism’s Laura Bates describes her as the sex robot that’s yours to rape for just $9,995. Writing in the Times on Thursday, the barrister Kate Parker called for sex robots like Roxxxy to be criminalised. “The sophistication of the technology behind Roxxxy marks a step forward for robotics. For human society, it’s an unquestionable regression,” she says.

Rise of the sex robots
Theres a problem with this story: the robot doesnt exist. Douglas Hines, the man behind Roxxxy TrueCompanion, has been drumming up publicity for his creation ever since he unveiled her to the public at the 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. Even though his website pulsates with throbbing Order Her Now! buttons, no journalist has seen or photographed Roxxxy since 2010, and no one in the surprisingly extensive robot enthusiast community has ever reported owning one.

I tried to meet Hines in person many times over the past year while researching a documentary and article on sex robots, and although he was happy to talk over the phone he avoided meeting me when I asked to see Roxxxy in the flesh. Roxxxy, much like the replicants and Stepford Wives of science fiction, seems to be nothing more than fantasy.

But while Roxxxy may not be available to buy, models like her will be very soon. Abyss Creations are due to ship the first talking, animatronic, AI-enabled heads for their hyper-realistic silicone sex dolls by the end of the year. And while the sex robots on offer from China and Japan may currently have more in common with push-button talking baby dolls than Ava from Ex Machina, theres commercial pressure to get sophisticated models with AI on sale as soon as possible.

The sex tech industry is worth $30bn a year, and with two thirds of heterosexual men in a recent survey saying they could imagine buying a sex robot for themselves, the race is on to make the fantasy a reality. But before sex robots hit the market, we have the space to ask whether they should.

The issue with sex robots in general not just hypothetical ones programmed to have a resist function is how their existence will affect how human beings interact with each other. Sex robots are different from sex dolls and sex toys because they have AI. More than just a mechanism for giving you an orgasm, a sex robot is designed to be a substitute partner: a vibrator doesnt laugh at your jokes and remember your birthday, but Abyss Creations Harmony model can.

If men (and it will be men even the few male sex dolls produced by Abyss Creations every year are generally shipped to male customers) become used to having sex with synthetic companions that are programmed to meet their most precise specifications, how will they then interact with real women who have the inconvenience of having their own idiosyncrasies and free will? If you are used to having sex with ultra-life-like humanoids whenever and however you want, will you be more likely to expect complete dominance in your relationships with other humans?

Young people who have grown up in the age of online porn might consider shaved pubic hair and double penetration to be completely normal. Similarly, the generation growing up when sex robots are commonplace might see brutally selfish sex as both desirable and achievable.

Sex robots exist purely to satisfy their owners. Is any sexual relationship healthy if its only ever about one persons pleasure? Can sex with a robot ever be consensual? This isnt about robot rights its about the kind of sex that will become normal within human societies if we start having sex with robots.

Child sex dolls have been banned in the UK because of fears they will encourage the desire to abuse among paedophiles, rather than simply sate it. Parker is calling for a similar ban for all sex robots. But while we might be able to stop them being imported or manufactured here, we cant stop them being developed overseas.

Perhaps the most important question to ask is why there is a market for sex robots in the first place. Why do some people find the idea of a partner without autonomy so attractive? Until we have the answer to that, well need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable rise of the sex robots.

Jenny Kleeman is a freelance journalist

 

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/25/ban-sex-robots-dolls-market

Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots

Open letter signed by Tesla chief and Googles Mustafa Suleyman urges UN to block use of lethal autonomous weapons to prevent third age of war.

Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots.

Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman are leading a group of 116 specialists from across 26 countries who are calling for the ban on autonomous weapons.

The UN recently voted to begin formal discussions on such weapons which include drones, tanks and automated machine guns. Ahead of this, the group of founders of AI and robotics companies have sent an open letter to the UN calling for it to prevent the arms race that is currently under way for killer robots.

In their letter, the founders warn the review conference of the convention on conventional weapons that this arms race threatens to usher in the third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

The founders wrote: “Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at time scales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”

We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/20/elon-musk-killer-robots-experts-outright-ban-lethal-autonomous-weapons-war

 

South Korea could be the first country in the world to implement a ‘robot tax’

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Amid fears about robots replacing human jobs, South Korea could become the first country in the world to introduce a “robot tax.”

A new proposal could see the country reduce the amount of tax benefits for companies that invest in automated machinery.

So while it’s not exactly a direct tax on robots, it looks like the government is making investment in robotics less appealing for companies.

South Korea has the highest concentration of robots in the world, with 531 multipurpose industrial robots for every 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry.

“Though it is not about a direct tax on robots, it can be interpreted as a similar kind of policy considering that both involve the same issue of industrial automation,” an industry source told news outlet The Korea Times.

Currently, South Korean companies that invest in automation equipment can have up to 7 percent of their corporate tax rate deducted. The new ruling however, will see this cut by up to 2 percent.

But does South Korea really have a reason to be worried?

Perhaps so. The country’s unemployment rate hit a 17-year high earlier this year, with some 1.17 million jobless people.

It’s difficult to say if the increase in unemployment rate is actually linked to an increase in automation, but at the very least, the money saved from reducing the tax incentives could be channelled to welfare programs.

But this isn’t the first time the idea of a “robot tax” has been suggested.

In February, Bill Gates came out in favour of introducing similar measures, saying that working robots should be taxed at a similar rates to their human counterparts.

“For a human worker who does $50,000 worth of work in a factory, the income is taxed,” Gates had told news outlet Quartz.

“If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

Gates was later criticised for his comments, with some saying he was “holding back progress.”

South Korea’s current tax laws are set to expire at the end of the year, after which the new proposals are expected to take effect.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/08/10/robots-south-korea/

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