Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Robots and Us

People have been finding the idea of robots fascinating since Mary Shelly wrote about a man who attempted to make a human being in his own image.

Is it because they appear to be like us, but they aren't? I remember reading Asimov's Robot mysteries 30 years ago and finding them fascinating. Even people who don't read SF can quote Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

Hollywood finds the idea of robots fascinating. They range from the Terminator type robot to the way the concept was handled in AI.

I thought we were long way from real robots until I came across this. A firm has created man's perfect female companion.

'LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) - Roxxxy the sex robot had a coming out party Saturday in Sin City.

In what is billed as a world first, a life-size robotic girlfriend complete with artificial intelligence and flesh-like synthetic skin was introduced to adoring fans at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

"She can't vacuum, she can't cook but she can do almost anything else if you know what I mean," TrueCompanion's Douglas Hines said while introducing AFP to Roxxxy.

"She's a companion. She has a personality. She hears you. She listens to you. She speaks. She feels your touch. She goes to sleep. We are trying to replicate a personality of a person."'

What I find interesting is that they can program her to like everything the guy likes, cars, motorbikes etc. Is that what men want, a mirror that happens to have female genitals?

Reading about this Roxxxy reminded me of the movie 'Lars and the Real Girl'. The movie explored isolation and how desperate someone can be for real contact. So the movie's theme and what Lars is looking for, is the opposite of what 'Roxxxy' offers men.

There is the concept of uploading yourself to a computer. If your body dies, you can revert to your latest save and download into a fresh body. If you need to be in two places at once, you can send a spare body with your latest download in your place. But which version is you?

Have you read any books recently that deal with robots and artificial intelligence in an interesting way?


John Lambshead said...

Dear Rowenna
The sex bot is not the perfect female companion for a man unless it can nag you into taking more care of yourself.

Mike said...

I have to admit, the commentary about the sexbot reminded me of the old Star Trek episode "Mudd's Women." Which dealt somewhat with the question of whether men just want a sexy chassis or someone with a bit more to offer.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


That is so true!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I know. I read it and thought there must be something wrong with these men. Then I thought, maybe they deserve their 'Roxxxy'. Which will leave the real men who want real women out there swimming around in dating pool.

Anonymous said...

I'm so behind on my real reading (as opposed to reading slush, which I'm also way behind on) that I can only offer examples from movies.

I enjoyed 9. The steampunk version was interesting. Ragdolls and mechanical spiders.

Or Night at the Museum. More magical effects, rather than designed automata, so to speak.

Transformers, Alien robots.

Surrogates, not really robots, in as much as they didn't do anything without direct control.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


Most of my reading has dealt with the transhuman type of robot, where someone uploads their mind.

I really don't think this would work. The human brain is a soup of chemicals that change over time. With an uploaded mind, all you'd have is a series of logic patterns that mimic the person, not the person.

Chris McMahon said...

If you managed to upload something to a machine, it would still not be 'you'. You are the poor organic thing slowly turning to mush on the 'transfer' couch after you expire.

Whatever the electronic thing with some 'data' from your brain is I'm not sure, but its not you anymore.

If its possible at all, even to create some sort of analogue to mental activity, it would take a vast leap in processing capability - into the realm of the quantum computer. And that's still way over the horizon.

As for old Roxxxy. I think she (it?) will only ever appeal to a certain segment of the population.

Anonymous said...

Rowena, I agree. Or, as one of my favorite authors put it, the crucial part of "living forever" is living.

The surrogate type of thing was interesting, as it basically substituted the nervous system input of the artificial body, for the real. Everyone stayed safe at home, while doing whatever they wanted with their sleek, young, sexy substitute body.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I think Roxxxy will appeal to a large portion of the population and that is a scary thought. Maybe my opinion of people is too low.

I read a book by an author who is very well known, and the characters would up load versions of themselves every few hours in dangerous situation, so that if their host body was killed, they could be downloaded into a new body and get on with the job.

At one point a character ran out of bodies and had to continue a conversation through the computer. They said something like 'As I was saying before I was killed ...'

I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it. It totally killed the story for me.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I think we are much more the product of the chemical soup that bathes our brain, than the product of rational thought. So to me uploading a series of memories and thought patterns is never going to work.