Theodore: Hey. What are you up to?
Samantha: I don’t know. Just reading advice columns. I want to be as complicated as all of these people.
Theodore: You’re sweet.
– Her (2013)
I am absolutely fascinated by the technological possibilities within the sex industry, and I don’t necessarily mean just within sex toys, although these are incredibly exciting. Even though sex dolls aren’t a kink of mine, the principles behind the technology of sex robots and interactive, responsive sex aids ticks so many of my boxes that I can’t not get excited about the possibilities. It covers science fiction, sex positive geekery, technology that could enhance the lives of those with disabilities and medical conditions, and is also a topic that’s a little controversial. How could I not be fascinated?!
I was reminded of this when reading GOTN’s recent blog where she refutes many of the negative claims and asks really interesting questions about the future and ethics of sex robots.
But it reminded me that what piques my interest the most is where this technology could go if it keeps developing at the current rate. As realistic robots become possible and artificial intelligence becomes more successful, it is no longer that big a leap to start thinking about sex robots that could act like real people; who could think and respond and feel. And that opens up a whole new line of debate because discussions on sex robots rarely consider the robot’s perspective or needs.
It was a podcast by The Infinite Monkey Cage that first opened my eyes to these potential problems of intelligent technology. They weren’t specifically discussing sex robots but asked if emotion had or should be considered when developing artificial intelligence. Are these intelligence systems happy? Should they be? And if they’re not happy, are they sad? Could they suffer from depression or anxiety? Can they feel pain, particularly emotional pain? And if we have created these systems, aren’t we responsible for their wellbeing and emotional health? With sex robots, there are also other considerations – should they enjoy sex? Should that be built into their design? Can they orgasm? And should that enjoyment be real or would it be the ultimate in fake orgasms? Could they form emotional connections? Just as there are worries that we could fall in love with our robots, what happens if they fall in love with us? Oh, it is such an interesting debate!
I think this is one of the many reasons why I loved ‘Her,’ the 2013 Spike Jonze film about a man (Joaquín Phoenix) who falls in love with his operating system (Scarlett Johansson), and would strongly recommend that everyone sees it. The film beautifully portrays this different kind of love and the development of feeling within artificial intelligence, without feeling like a forced morality debate. It’s really wonderful.
So, in line with these thoughts that have been buzzing through my mind and helpfully guided by the Identity prompt for this week’s Wicked Wednesday (although it is quite long, sorry Marie!), I have written a story from the perspective of a sex robot…
…and this story is under consideration for publication so has been taken off line. More details soon!!
AND…you can now pre-order this book that includes the story taken down from this page here: https://mybk.li/identity
At the time of updating (23/2/17), it’s only 99p so pre-order now!!