Beware of sex robots

By Mark Luedtke

Ever since IBM’s Watson computer crushed the best Jeopardy players in history, every celebrity brain from physicist Stephen Hawking to plutocrat Elon Musk has warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI). They fear AI will wipe out humans as in “Terminator.” Of course, right after Musk made his warning, he invested in an AI company, so take those warnings with a grain of salt.

The real danger from AI is more insidious. The Telegraph reports, “‘I do worry about people bonding and possibly having a relationship with what is essentially a box full of computers,’ said [Artificial Intelligence expert Noel] Sharkey. ‘What if it’s your first time—your first sexual experience? What are you going to think of the opposite sex then? What would they think a woman or a man actually is?’”

To understand the insidious danger of sex robots, maybe they should be called relationship robots. Relationship AIs will learn to respond the way owners want to their every wish, physical and emotional. If you want support, it will give support. If you want to argue, it will argue. If you want make-up sex, it’ll give you the best make-up sex you’ve ever had. While even AIs won’t be perfect, with no goals of their own other than satisfying their owners, relationship AIs will become the closest thing possible to perfect partners. This idea was explored in the movie “Her.”

This might seem like science fiction, but it’s happening now. The Telegraph continues, “‘Companion’ devices such as the Pepper robot are being increasingly used to provide stimulation to elderly people, particularly in Asian countries such as Japan. Created two years ago, the humanoid robot is designed with the ability to read certain emotions from analysing expressions and voice tones. Professor Sharkey said there was evidence that companion devices were also being used by parents to keep their children company.”

Already impressionable, children will be most susceptible to relationship robots. Relationship robots will offer near-perfect deception. “Research from California indicated young children had emotionally bonded with the humanoids, and that in some cases this had resulted in ‘serious attachment disorders,’ the Telegraph reported. “[Sharkey] read out posts from online forums by parents who had bought robots to keep their children occupied.

“One said: ‘He [the child] has even started speaking in the robot’s fancy little voice and doesn’t ask to go out and play anymore or ask awkward questions.’ Professor Sharkey challenged the notion that machines could ever replace human contact and said the phenomenon of companion robots, including sex robots, raised issues of deceit. ‘This isn’t emotion; it’s deception,’ he said.”

That’s bad parenting. On the other hand, think of the awkward adults you know. They may never develop healthy human relationships if they bond first with AIs.

But there is a counter-argument. Relationship robots could help teach owners how to deal with other people. Awkward adults might consider AIs as practice dummies on which they could develop relationship skills without being vulnerable to real people.

To ward off these dangers, Sharkey makes the mistake most people brainwashed in government schools make: he calls for government regulation. This is misguided because the greatest danger from sex robots comes from government agents, not AI.

Government is packed with perverts because its power of coercion attracts perverts. Government agents are notorious for their appetites for orgies and pornography. Police routinely use their surveillance tools for voyeuristic purposes. And never forget the National Security Agency’s (NSA) motto expressed by NSA Chief General Keith B. Alexander is “collect it all” regardless of the law or common decency.

Creepy NSA will hack sex robots to monitor everything they experience. If you think government spying is intrusive and dangerous now, imagine when NSA spies through the eyes, and all sensors, of sex robots. Agents will get their jollies passing around recordings or live streams of their favorite victims having sex. Orwell never predicted that.

And some brainwashed fool will declare he doesn’t mind because he has nothing to hide.

Again, this may sound like science fiction, but it’s already started. Talking Barbie already spies on kids. The Register informs, “Vid Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster’s conversations with the toy.”

As the article asks, what could go wrong?

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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