Sex robots seem to have captured the imagination of people looking for a better time in bed across the world as celebrity look-alikes of robots may hit the markets and robots with functioning human genitalia and the ability to crack jokes are already making news.
While critics have already warned that robots will take over as partners in bed from human beings in the near future and enthusiasts say that robots may lead to clean prostitution, experts are now predicting that sex with robots will also be legalised in the next three decades.
Although the idea may seem unthinkable, the argument cited is that the concept of homosexual marriage was outrageous around the world 35 years back and now they have been legalised, and even black people weren’t allowed to marry each other in some American states till the 70s.
The expert Adrian Cheok says that though the marriages will be legal in around 2050, people will start living with robots much before that. He added that while many marriages between human beings can be unhappy, marriages with robots will have higher chances of success.
The only challenge according to Cheok is to develop a software that allows robots to understand human conversations and emotions effectively enough to be a good partner.
In the face of AI exerts repeatedlypredicting the rise of sex robots, it’s increasingly difficult to insist that such machines strictly belong to a far-off, dystopian future. But some robotics experts predict we’ll soon be doing far more than having sexual intercourse with machines. Instead, we’ll be making love to them—with all the accompanying romantic feelings.
At this week’s “Love and Sex with Robots” conference at Goldsmith University in London, David Levy, author of a book on human-robot love, predicted that human-robot marriages would be legal by 2050. Adrian Cheok, computing professor at City University London and director of the Mixed Reality Lab in Singapore, says the prediction is not so farfetched.
“That might seem outrageous because it’s only 35 years away. But 35 years ago people thought homosexual marriage was outrageous,” says Cheok, who also spoke at the conference. “Until the 1970s, some states didn’t allow white and black people to marry each other. Society does progress and change very rapidly.”
And though human-robot marriage might not be legal until 2050, Cheok believes humans will be living with robot partners long before then.
Though Cheok acknowledges that sex robots could fulfill sexist male sexual fantasies, he believes robot-human marriages will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on society. “People assume that everyone can get married, have sex, fall in love. But actually many don’t,” he says. And even those who do might be in search of a different option. “A lot of human marriages are very unhappy,” Cheok says. “Compared to a bad marriage, a robot will be better than a human.”
Though various sex robots are on the market, there are none that come close to resembling a human sexual partner—and there’s certainly nothing like the type of humanoid robot capable of replicating a loving relationship. However, Cheok believes the greatest technological difficulty in creating love robots is not a mechanical challenge, but a matter of developing the software necessary to build a robot that understands human conversation skillfully enough for the job.
Once that problem has been addressed, Cheok sees no problem with romances between man and machine. “If a robot looks like it loves you, and you feel it loves you, then you’re essentially going to feel like it’s almost human love,” he says. Cheok points out that in Japan and South Korea, there are already cases of humans falling in love with computer characters. Cheok also compares robot love to human emotions for other species, such as pet cats. “We already have very high empathy for non-human creatures. That’s why I think once we have robots that act human, act emotional, or look human, it’s going to be a small jump for us to feel empathy towards robots,” he says.
Others are less convinced. Oliver Bendel, professor at University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland, with a focus on machine ethics, says he does not believe sex or love robots will have moral standing. “Marriage is a form of contract between human beings to regulate mutual rights and obligations including the care and the welfare of children. Perhaps one day robots can have real duties and rights, though I don’t really believe it,” he says. However, he acknowledges that human-robot marriage could become legal by 2050 simply in response to public pressure.
Then again, Bendel says, legislation could move in the other direction: As sex and love robots become more realistic, governments could choose to ban sexual relationships between humans and machines. Either way, though the technology is not ready yet, experts believe it’s best to start figuring out the moral conundrums now, so that we’ll be prepared once romantic sex robots do arrive.
Roboticists claim that it will be legal to have sex with robots by the year 2050.
But people will be having sex with robot partners before that.
No, you’re not reading this wrong.
In an article at Quartz, Adrian Cheok, computing professor at City University London and director of the Mixed Reality Lab in Singapore, reminded readers that homosexual marriage, as well as interracial marriage, was considered “outrageous” 35 years ago.
Cheok says that humans have the capacity to love non-humans—such as their pets. Or their anime characters. “If a robot looks like it loves you, and you feel it loves you, then you’re essentially going to feel like it’s almost human love,” Cheok says.
According to Quartz, the real challenge isn’t mechanical. (If you want to google the strides companies have made with sexbots, that’s between you and your browser history.) No, the real challenge is “a matter of developing the software necessary to build a robot that understands human conversation.” Because after all, marriage is about communication.
Not everyone is convinced you’ll have a groovy kind of metallic/latex love. In 2015, ethicists asked people to not have sex with robots because of the possibility of dehumanizing the sexual experience and decreasing empathy with a partner.
But perhaps robo-love can fill in a gap for those who have tried and failed at love with a human with his/her own opinions and demands that you get a real job.
“A lot of human marriages are very unhappy,” Cheok says. “Compared to a bad marriage, a robot will be better than a human.”
What do you think? Will you be welcoming your new robot overlord … into your bed?
Een aantal experts heeft tijdens de Love and Sex with Robots-conferentie gedurfde uitspraken gedaan. De verdere ontwikkeling van seksrobots gaat er volgens de experts toe leiden dat mensen vanaf 2050 met robots kunnen trouwen.
‘Als het lijkt alsof een robot van jou houdt en jij voelt dat het van je houdt, dan gaat het in essentie voelen als menselijke liefde. We hebben al veel empathie voor niet-menselijke schepsel (dieren, red.). Daarom denk ik dat het een kleine stap is naar empathie als robots menselijk gedrag vertonen, emoties tonen of er menselijk uitzien’, verklaart hoogleraar Adrian Cheok , meldt website Quartz.
‘Het lijkt buitensporig omdat het maar 35 jaar later is. Maar 35 jaar geleden dachten mensen dat het mannelijk huwelijk buitensporig was. Tot in de jaren 70 waren er staten waarin witte- en zwarte mensen niet konden trouwen. De maatschappij gaat vooruit en verandert zeer snel’, gaat Cheok verder.
Goed voor maatschappij
Schrijver David Levy, die met een boek over mensen-robotliefde kwam, en hoogleraar Oliver Bendel zien de voorspellingen van Cheok wel uitkomen. Het zal een positief effect hebben op de maatschappij omdat nu wordt aangenomen dat iedereen kan trouwen, seks heeft en verliefd wordt. In werkelijkheid ligt dat anders.
‘Heel veel menselijke huwelijken zijn erg ongelukkig. In vergelijking met een slecht huwelijk zal een robot beter zijn dan een mens’, besluit Cheok.