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Great Guardian piece on sex robots

This case really is something. I'll copy in some remarks I sent to someone via email earlier today:

A «$15,000 robot companion that talks, learns, and never says no.» Perfect for creepy dudes. Less human contact sounds like just the thing.

«Voice and facial recognition software, motion-sensing technology and animatronic engineering can be combined to create dolls that can give you a warm, smiling welcome when you come home, entertain you with snappy conversation and always be available for sex.» Why go out at all, at this point?

«The major breakthrough of McMullen’s prototype is artificial intelligence that allows it to learn what its owner wants and likes.» The major breakthrough is that it reinforces everything you say, an away-from-keyboard echo chamber that potentially exacerbates all of your least charming attributes. «Harmony is designed to be as much a substitute partner as a sex toy.» Maybe you should get a whole bunch of them, form a debate club!

«Harmony cannot walk, but that’s not a big issue. [...] “One day she will be able to walk,” McMullen told me. “Let’s ask her.” He turned to Harmony. “Do you want to walk?” “I don’t want anything but you,” she replied quickly, in a synthesised cut-glass British accent, her jaw moving as she spoke.» Yeah, if she could walk, she would probably run the hell away from all of the creepy dudes that buy her. «"I think men have needs. This will probably stop guys from raping women."» Luckily she can't walk, and she can't say no, so let's reinforce rape culture. What could go wrong? «Cardenas had never considered that there could be anything worrying about being able to own a partner who never says no. “It will be a different reality, not a substitute reality,” he smiled awkwardly. “A doll can’t harm humans.” He paused. “It’s a technology that’s moving forward. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”» Full-speed-head is always good!

«British artificial intelligence engineer David Levy predicted that sex robots would have therapeutic benefits. “Many who would otherwise have become social misfits, social outcasts, or even worse, will instead be better-balanced human beings,” he wrote.» Yeah, because clearly staying at home with a fuck toy echo chamber isn't going to make a social pariah at all.

Computer engineer, Douglas Hines, «has never considered that there could be something emotionally empty about replacing a human presence with circuitry and silicone.» Of course he hasn't. «“The purpose of True Companion is to provide unconditional love and support. How could there be anything negative about that? What can be the downside of having a robot that’s there to hold your hand, literally and figuratively?”» Oh, gee, I don't know, maybe he's right. Let's just get rid of humans altogether. A forum user wrote «“If my RealDoll could cook, clean, and screw whenever I wanted, I’d never date again.” Many of the men in the forum said they had wives and girlfriends, who they compared unfavourably to their silicone doll mistresses.» Clearly there can't be any downsides.

«And Harmony will systematically try and find out as much about her owner as possible, and use those facts in conversation, “so it feels like she really cares”, as McMullen described it, even though she doesn’t care at all.» Talk about alienation.

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