Rise of the Sex-bot

I’m going to cut right to the chase: today I saw a headline about sex robots. Yes, you read that right – sex robots. Apparently, this is the new thing in Amsterdam. Sex robots made of materials resistant to STDs are intended to replace human prostitutes. The hope is that this will make a dent in sex trafficking, kidnapping, spread of STDs, and reduce crime. They are making these robots as lifelike as they can. Now, I’m as curious as the next gal, so I took a gander at some photos of these robots. Some are … ummmm… a far cry from life-like; more like *ahem* enhanced mannequins. Others were incredibly lifelike – and even blink! I guess, at first, I wasn’t sure what to think. On the one hand, if this takes off, wouldn’t it be great to put an end to – or at least seriously decrease – the horrors of human trafficking? On the other hand, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Daryl Hannah’s character in Blade Runner. You know, the sex trade “replicant” Harrison Ford’s character was sent to terminate. A bit far fetched? Maybe. Or maybe not. Just the other day, I read an article in Science Daily about a scientist making a huge breakthrough in the field of Artificial Intelligence. The aim is to continue efforts to perfect a computer that mimics the human brain, and learns. Before I continue on, I feel I should state that I think the field of Robotics is amazing. I am 100% behind the research focused on creating robotic limbs meant to benefit amputees. I think guided robots sent into collapsed mines or buildings, shipwrecks, minefields, and the surface of other worlds are ingenious! The key word here being “guided”. I think it is a huge mistake, though, to create another species – and that is exactly what we are doing here when we talk about creating a computer that mimics the human brain, and with the capacity to think & reason. My question is, and has always been on this topic: “why?” In this and other articles they spoke of companions for the blind who can understand obstacles, and guide their charges effortlessly through their day, and robots who can “interact successfully with a human partner”. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402113038.htm) Again, I beg the question “why?” Haven’t we heard enough cautionary tales of robots or computers gone awry to know better? I mean, isn’t this the basis for about a billion science fiction flicks for decades? It’s the plot line for at least a quarter of Doctor Who and Star Trek episodes, and then there’s Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica, 2001: A Space Oddessy, The Matrix – the list literally could go on and on. Why are we aiming for this? Because we can? Or is it to see if we can? Isn’t that the worst kind of hubris? Shouldn’t we be focused on research targeting sight restoration instead of robots guides for the blind? Shouldn’t we be trying to contain ourselves instead of creating STD resistant robots? Really what we’re doing here is spending millions on creating other things to do our dirty work, instead of correcting our own behavior. In the end, I’m a little sickened – and a little frightened of what we have become. Or maybe we’ve always been this way. Maybe it’s time to take responsibility for ourselves instead of creating a new race of slaves. For once, I think we should resist the urge to see what can be done, and instead take a moment to consider what should be done.

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