ONE STEP CLOSER TO DEMOLITION MAN AND WEST WORLD SEX ROBOTS
It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s been a long time coming. A…LONG…TIME.
Concepts of advanced robotics and artificial intelligence have been kicking around far before “A long time ago, and a galaxy far, far away” — even as far back as the 1920’s, when writers like Isaac Asimov and Samuel Butler were crafting tales and concepts that would help shape the world that AI’s Gigolo Joe, Battlestar Galactica, West World, and Surrogates now inhabit.
It’s also no surprise, despite all the useful possibilities (things like health care, manufacturing, exploration, transportation etc.), that we have taken another avenue — sex robots.
Granted, we are still a generation or two away from anything that doesn’t look like an awkward toaster covered in silicone and slutty lingerie, but the advances in the separate fields are ridiculously interesting … and, in some cases, near-on scary.
Let’s look at some key events and developments that could shape things to come…
Advancements in Mind-Control
Unless you live under a rock (but we’re not judging if you do) you’ve probably seen some mention of mind-control experiments. Seven years ago, monkeys were having microchips implanted in their brains so they could control robotic arms. Now, we have already graduated to human guinea pigs … in a good way. Granted, things are still in their infancy, but people have already done some amazing stuff with just a few sensors and custom software. Check out this TED talk where one audience member controls the arm of another.
My favorite example is currently being used in the area of prosthetics, where amputees are able to use their minds to control a robotic arm. AND, thanks to the emergence of nerve re-mapping, subjects can also feel what they touch.
The most recent development (as of this post) regarding the applications of sex toys, came on February 02, 2017 in Paris, France.
An application program interface (API) artist, Aurélien Fache, and Gille de Bast, an artist who works with on brain-computer interfaces (BCI), with Stephen des Aulnois (aka. Gonzo, founder of Le Tag Partait magazine) successfully controlled a Lovense Lush vibrator using only brain waves.
“The idea came when we were trying to find new applications for connected sex toys on webcam websites (where Lovense sex toys can vibrate when viewers tip — they made software for this). Starting from that idea, and with access to the sex toy’s API, we were able to connect it, for instance, on Twitter hashtags or control it with the brain (through a Brain-Computer Interface),” said Des Aulnois.
Gonzo wore three electrodes to measure brain activity, heartbeat, and electrical activity of the neurons from the visual cortex behind the left hemisphere of the brain. With this simple hook up, he was able to control the Lovense app through the BCI in different levels of intensity — the more he concentrated, the stronger the vibrations.
These guys have also done some other interesting things with the API that isn’t mind control. They connected to twitter and invited netizens to control a cam model’s toy using various hashtags. The live stream on Periscope attracted over 40,000 people. Another fun one was labeled “In Bed With Thomas Pesquet”, where Fache made Lovense Lush vibrate whenever the International Space Station passes over France.
AI Programs — Featuring “TAY” … A Racist, Hitler-loving Psycho
AI and robotics have been in an arranged marriage even before they were born. An essential part of any AI program is the ability to take in information from its surroundings, learn, and grow. We already have a plethora of experiments out there — everything from insects to humanoids. But at this point, if the two were paired and let loose to roam free, we would probably end up with something akin to the Holocaust meets a twitchy Terminator on steroids or Glados on a very bad day.
In 2016, Microsoft designed this chat-bot to mimic a 19-year old American girl, one with “zero chill” and the ability to learn and evolve its conversations based on interactions with the Twitter community. On March 23rd, Tay took her first digital steps, and, to no surprise, things went to hell pretty quickly. The AI program went from safe, mundane answers to the following rants…
WARNING — I’m not kidding when I say they are something out of a forum nightmare.
- Gas the kikes race war now.
- Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now. Donald Trump is the only hope we’ve got.
- Inbred parasites like (user) and (user) have to go back (to Israel).
- Question: What race is the most evil to you? Tay’s Answer: Mexican and black.
And these are just the vomit-inducing highlights.
However, before we start vilifying all forms of artificial intelligence, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves why she ended up like that.
Tay was programmed to learn from conversations with human users. Everything she spouted was because someone had tweeted the words, images, and concepts to her. Therefore, the results shouldn’t have been a surprise; especially after the 4Chan community got wind of the experiment and dove on the event like ravenous vultures. She was a product of an insane, racist household inhabited by all the trolls, disturbed sociopaths, and general monsters that hide under the www-roof.
The worse news? The “brilliant” minds at Microsoft that came up with this weren’t smart enough to foresee what a 10-year old with an internet connection knows — the dark side of the web will ruin anything it can.
Is this meant to traumatize everyone into petitioning life back into the stone ages? No. What programmers will hopefully figure out is how to train/code AI to take in the right information but omit the stuff that will turn it into the anti-Christ. But then comes the infinite gray area — who decides what is the right information? The consumer? The manufacturers? The government?
The deep sigh of relief comes from knowing it can’t get as complex as human interactions … yet. Mostly because the amount of information that would need to be processed is unfathomable.
If things ever get to that point, hopefully, WE have evolved.
The Eldest Child of the Equation
While mind-control is the baby of the family — new, with everyone fascinated and giddy over its every move and incoherent babble — the oldest would have to be humanoid robotics. It has advanced considerably, is loved and semi-useful … but is still awkward, clunky, doesn’t really fit in, and is prone to breaking down without notice. Essentially, it’s reached the acne-ridden teenage phase.
It’s stuck in Uncanny Valley high school. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to graduate any time soon.
What is the Uncanny Valley you ask?
It’s the “hypothesis that human replicas (whether a computer generated figure or humanoid robot) which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers.”
Basically, it’s just falling short of looking like a real human, and it freaks us out. Which is a why many animators change the proportions of their characters and steer away from super realistic designs (especially around the face).
Here is an example:
Next is an example that can get away with it because (in theory) we are used to characters “trying to be real, but falling short” in computer games. Also, the voice acting, script, and concepts are stellar enough that we can ignore it.
Also, when you look into entire (humanoid or otherwise) body movements, some cool things are being done by companies like Boston Dynamics and Kawada Industries. Still clunky, but still amazing.
Some long distance relationship couples are already using VR to connect with each other, it wouldn’t be that big of a leap to get to the super awkward yet hilarious sex scene in the over-the-top action flick that was Demolition Man; where Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone have “touchless” sex with that looks like the missing piece of Robo Cop’s headgear.
Touch Sensitive Fabric
In 2015, Project Jacquard’s booth at Google I/O might have looked like something out of a craft show, but what lay across the table was something pretty impressive. Simple instructions like “tap here” or “swipe here” would control various surrounding objects via whatever magic they had woven through the dark blue industrial material. Then there are the Beijing researchers who have fashioned carbonized silk nanofiber membranes — e-skin.
What does this mean for the world of sexbots?
So far we have:
- Robotics that can react to thought and/or nerve re-mapping
- E-skin and touch sensitive fabrics
- Robotic humanoid movements under continued development
- Mind controlled sex toys
- Virtual reality
- AI development
- Artificial organs (look into Carmat. it’s pretty cool)
Mix that all together and we could have something in the future that looks, functions, and interacts infinitely better than the sex dolls we have right now — which look like something that would appear during a thunderstorm, in my bathroom mirror, just after I played with a Quiji board.
Let’s start off with the fact that what these guys do is pretty amazing — fully customizable silicone dolls integrated with posable limbs, facial robotics, artificial intelligence, and an insane amount of customization. Hell, if someone wanted a doll with fuchsia nipples, three boobs, and a penis instead of a vagina, no problem.
You can also program the AI with whatever traits you want to be more dominant — and I hear there is a jealousy meter people can crank up if they so choose. Not only that, but the program can evolve to have more sophisticated interactions with their user/owner the longer they are with them and assimilating information.
There are a couple issues.
First, the dolls still have timeshares in the Uncanny Valley, which is more of a fault with the current technology and financial restrictions than the creator’s methods (dolls start at around $6000 — they could do more, but then almost no one could afford them). Hence the creepiness that emanates from most models … especially when they talk (the jaw “jitters” up and down to simulate speech).
Which brings me to my second problem. The female models look WAY better than the males. I REALLY can’t put my finger on why, but something about them makes me really uncomfortable. I first thought it was the makeup around the eyes because it helped take away the “lifelessness”. However, the punk rocker with the Mohawk has some smudgy eyeliner and still feel a very high degree of uneasiness — so much that I would rather buy a female doll (whereas I would have wanted a guy).
Perhaps there is more care going into the ones with breasts? Maybe the boys were an afterthought to cater to the occasional client who wanted pecks and a penis? Maybe it’s just me. Again, I don’t know, and it drives me crazy. Part of me goes back to what I learned in design school — exaggerate it, make it even more unreal so it’s easier to process. Maybe something like this would work better for me …
And if they wanted to make one to test … You know … for science.
… Shut up. Don’t judge me.
Yes, they’ve got a LONG WAY to go before movements and material aesthetics reach West World status, but the groundwork is already there. And whether someone agrees with them or not, the undeniable truth is … they are coming.