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Header illustration by Gareth Damian Martin

A brief history of men who build female robots

Lidia Zuin
Apr 4, 2017 · 22 min read

Asking the Question

The issue has already been addressed by Wired and Dazed Digital, but Ma doesn’t seem to comprehend that. When asked if his robot could be objectifying women, he replied “I’m not sure of this question.” He states that, in spite of the robot’s possibilities to interact with people, winking and smiling when you tell her she is beautiful, Mark 1 is used purely for scientific reasons and there is no contact with her on a more personal level.

The High Performance Machine

In the late 1970s and mid 1980s, feminists such as Donna Haraway and Anne Balsamo started a discussion about postmodernism, cyborgs, and feminism. While Haraway (in A Cyborg Manifesto) suggested the cyborg as a transgressive potential for gender roles, Balsamo (in Technologies of the Gendered Body) argued for the idea of the cyborg as metaphor for the female body in a world of non-material bodies, based on Foucault’s theories on sexuality.

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Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation

Robots of Today

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, this concept that emerged in science fiction has become part of our reality. Researchers in Korea and Japan were responsible for the creation of the first human-like and realistic androids. Though their first models were humanoid robots with female forms, the scientists imitated the male pattern of movements.

A history of gynoids

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EveR-1
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Dr. Ishiguro and his geminoid

Gynoids and the ideal of womanhood

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Clayton Bailey and Sweetheart

The Next Wave

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Matt McMullen and his love dolls

Gynoids and women objectification

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Female Figure is an animatronic project created in 2014 by Jordan Wolfson.
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Sonoya Mizuno and Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina

Having sex with gynoids

According to the social anthropologist Kathleen Richardson, author of An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines (2015), as men are often the ones building digital assistants, and those assistants are modeled after women, it’s probable that this “reflects what some men think about women — that they’re not fully human beings.”

Genderless robots

Tanya Lewis’s piece for Live Science has already told us that there is indeed a pattern in technology in which more female artificial intelligences and gynoids are being created because these machines “tend to perform jobs that have traditionally been associated with women. For example, many robots are designed to function as maids, personal assistants, or museum guides.”

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Radford’s Valkyrie
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Lidia Zuin

Written by

Brazilian journalist, MA in Semiotics and PhD candidate in Visual Arts. Head of innovation and futurism at UP Lab. Cyberpunk enthusiast and researcher.

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Stories, tips, and learnings from and for startups around the world. Welcoming submissions re: startup education, tech trends, product, design, hiring, growth, investing, and more. Interested in submitting? Visit our submission form here: https://airtable.com/shrShpeN89HrzCzOB

Lidia Zuin

Written by

Brazilian journalist, MA in Semiotics and PhD candidate in Visual Arts. Head of innovation and futurism at UP Lab. Cyberpunk enthusiast and researcher.

Startup Grind

Stories, tips, and learnings from and for startups around the world. Welcoming submissions re: startup education, tech trends, product, design, hiring, growth, investing, and more. Interested in submitting? Visit our submission form here: https://airtable.com/shrShpeN89HrzCzOB

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