“A great science fiction detective story” - Ian Watson, author of The Universal Machine
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Synthetic Humanity + Sex
The topic of artificial humanity is inherently provocative, irrespecitve of the fact that we are increasingly incorporating our technology into our bodies as a matter of simple medical progress. (Movement toward artificial intelligence is less obvious and certain, but it remains a live issue.)
The topic of sex and interpersonal intimacy — even just between humans — is perhaps even more provocative, regardless of the fact that there are few things that are more central to our lives.
Combine the two and you get something explosive.
Recent News Reports
It´s not a new issue, but it´s one that will become increasingly relevant as technology progresses. In fact, a quick glance reveals so much material and so many sub-issues — technical, epidemiological, philosophical, psychological, and even religious — that this will be the first of an ongoing series of posts on the topic.
We have to start somewhere and we might as well start with David Levy.
Levy is one of the most notable authors in this area. He is an International Master chess player and businessman and the author of Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships.
You can find a review of the book by Rachel Maines here. (Maines is a visiting scholar in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and the author of The Technology of Orgasm.)
You can also find a series of questions sent in to New Scientist, with Levy´s answers, here.
Levy has a related paper that´s accessible (and that dovetails nicely with the recent one in the news) entitled Robot Prostitutes as Alternatives to Human Sex Workers that can be found in the Homo Artificialis Library.
Sex + Love
I´ve written previously that interacting with artificial humans by touch will increasingly trigger reactions to our synthetic counterparts that are conditioned by evolution and to some extent beyond our control. Sex may be the most powerful form of haptic communication there is, and while it doesn´t always involve emotional intimacy, it frequently does, so one issue raised by having sex with homo artificialis is that of falling in love.
A news item on sex and marriage with robots can be found here.
If you prefer something more academic, Kahn et al have investigated this area in a paper entitled Psychological Intimacy with Robots, which can also be found in the Homo Artificialis Library.
An excellent, in-depth interview with Levy about his book is embedded below.