By Roland Piquepaille
David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher and international chess master, defended yesterday his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. The name of his thesis is "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners" and the University announced it under the name "Love and Sex with Robots." Levy says that trends in robotics and artificial intelligence will, 'within a few decades, result in robots that are so humanlike in their appearance and functionality, in their personality, and in their expression of emotions, that many people will be falling in love with them, having sex with them, and even marrying them.' Will it really happen? Are you ready for this?
Except if I'm completely wrong, David Levy thesis is not available online today, but HarperCollins Publishers will release his latest book on November 6, 2007 under the title "Love and Sex with Robots." [Is this possible that several people named David Levy publish a work with this title? On the other hand, why a person who graduated from St. Andrews University, Scotland, in 1967, would like to get a Ph. from the University of Maastricht in 2007?].
It will be available as an e-book for $19.95 or in hardcover version for $24.95. You can see the cover of this book on the left (Credit: HarperCollins Publishers). And here is a link to a larger version.
Here is another quote from the University of Maastricht news release. "Levy’s Ph. research has encompassed the fields of psychology, sexology, sociology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and gender studies. His forecasts are based on his analysis of certain trends and on what he sees as the inevitability of how these trends will continue in the future. One of these trends follows the objects of human affection -- at first this was only for other humans, then it expanded to include pet animals, then virtual pets such as the TAMAGOTCHI and Sony’s robotic dog AIBO, and in the future, according to Levy’s thesis, for robots."
In another page showcasing academic events (scroll to the middle of the page), the University of Maastricht gives additional details. "Central is the question how our relationships with computers will further develop into a certain degree of intimacy that culminates in the prospect that robots will become our artificial partners. Levy concludes that the emotions that people feel for other people, for pets, for virtual pets, and even for less animal artefacts -- namely computers -- will be extended to the area of the robots of the future. The dissertation also states that the normal boundaries of human sexuality will be completely extended to the robots of the future. "Love and sex with robots are inevitable extensions of our ideas, feelings and practical actions in the framework of relationships. The question is not if this will happen, but when. I am convinced that the answer is: much earlier than you think," says Levy."
As you can guess, the British press was more than ready to write about sex with robots. As an example, here is a link to a Daily Mail article, "Why people will soon be marrying and having sex - with robots" (October 12, 2007).
But Digital Journal, from Ontario, Canada, has more interesting news. In "Humans will soon wed robots," it it is commenting this announcement (October 11, 2007). But in a previous article, "Look mom, I married a robot!," Bart B. Van Bockstaele gave additional insights.
Here is what he wrote. "Levy predicts the following sequence of events. Robots are fast becoming more and more human. In a short while from now, they will be able to walk and move. Clumsy at first, more human-like later. All that is required is to incorporate the technology in dolls. Even to the current quite life-like dolls that are popular in Japan are still inanimate and passive objects; some people do have sex with them. This will only increase when more technology is added to them. From there, sex with robots as a "normal activity" seems only a matter of time. People will first try it out of curiosity. Then, the media will jump on the phenomenon. They will be followed by celebrities, and once that is done, it will become mainstream."
Here is his conclusion. "Developing relationships with robots could be the ultimate contraceptive. If enough people could have relationships with robots, tricks as one-child policies could become a thing of the past, and the world’s population might start to diminish. There are, of course, also dangers lurking around the corner. What would happen if robots evolve so much that they take over? That is something for programmers to worry about now. The rest of humanity can simply enjoy the moment in the meantime. We live in fantastic times."
So do you think you'll have sex with a robot within 10 years and marry one later? Drop me a note to tell me what you think.
Sources: University of Maastricht news release, October 8, 2007; and various websites
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Famous quotes containing the words day and/or marry:
“Venus, take my votive glass:
Since I am not what I was,
What from this day I shall be,
Venus, let me never see.”
—Matthew Prior (16641721)
“Those who marry God can become domesticated tooits just as hum-drum a marriage as all the others. The word Love means a formal touch of the lips as in the ceremony of the Mass, and Ave Maria like dearest is a phrase to open a letter.”
—Graham Greene (19041991)