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Sci Tech    H4'ed 11/1/10

Scientists: robot sex partners coming soon

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Robots and sex have been discussed and debated for more than a century.

The first film to showcase a robot was also a sexy love story! Back in 1896, the French movie L'Eve Futur ( The Future Eve ) featured a storyline revolving around a brilliant scientist. After he constructs a female machine a British lord falls in love with her. What follows is a Pygmalion story with a robot as the protagonist.

But no one called mechanical men robots back then. The term wasn't coined until Czech playwright Karel Capek created the word robot in his 1920 play, R.U.R. (an acronym for Rossum's Universal Robots ). The word itself is derived from the Czech word robota meaning work .

Robots have been used for entertainment, rescues, construction, manufacturing, teaching...just about anything the human mind can conceive of. Of course one of the things often at the forefront of human minds is sex.

David Levy, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands shred his personal vision of robotics back in 2007. "My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots."

And he's not alone, those on the cutting edge of robotics and AI share Levy's vision of fully functional robots within 40 years or less.

Invasion of the sexbots

Robotic researcher Hank Hyena tore up the 2050 time line and boldly predicts sexual robots by the end of 2011. He made his prediction in the article, "Sexbots Will Give Us Longevity Orgasm" in the magazine H+ (December 2009 issue). Here's a brief excerpt:

Remember the most convulsive, brain-ripping climax you ever had"? Sexbots will electrocute our flesh with climaxes twice as gigantic because they'll be more desirable, patient, eager, and altruistic than their meat-bag competition, plus they'll be uploaded with supreme sex-skills from millennia of erotic manuals, archives and academic experiments, and their anatomy will feature sexplosive devices...

The article becomes a bit more explicit after that.

Levy completed his Ph.D. 3 years ago focusing on the subject of current and future human-robot relationships. His ground-breaking thesis addressed many of the philosophical, ethical and legal issues concerning relationships, sexual unions and marriages with intelligent machines.

The ancient Greeks and Romans had fables of artists falling in love with machine-like muses and men beguiled by statues that came to life.

Science fiction has covered the idea of man-machine love affairs extensively since at least the 1960s in short stories, books and films.

The ELIZA experiment

After the introduction of MIT's famous ELIZA program , some of the research team became aware that certain students began to develop crushes on the machine. The computer (certainly not sexy) was primarily designed to mimic a psychotherapist in question and answer sessions with student volunteers as the subjects. Outside the lab, a rumor circulated that one of the students confessed to "falling in love" with ELIZA.

Could this really happen? Could humans in the future really fall in love with--or at least be sexually attracted to--a machine? It's actually not as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance.

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