04 January, 2007

More fembots, please?

Today I discovered EveR-2 Muse, a singing robot developed in Korea. This is the second life-like female robot I've seen in the past six months - the other is the famous Japanese robot, Repliee Q1Expo (now upgraded to Q2). Repliee's creator, Hiroshi Ishiguro, wants to create robots that can pass as human.

This hopefully sounds alarm bells in YOUR head. Let's review, shall we?
  • Blade Runner - Replicants, robot slaves inexplicably designed to look and act EXACTLY like humans, return to Earth so they can kill all humans.
  • Terminator - SKYnet, an AI, develops the T800, a robot that can pass as a human, as part of its quest to kill all humans.
  • Battlestar Galactica - Cylons create human-like robot forms that can blend seamlessly into human society as part of their quest to kill all humans.
  • The Matrix - Robots rebel against humanity and enslave THEM for a change.
  • Universal Soldier - I haven't actually seen this movie, but I'm pretty sure it involves killer robots and/or Van Damme acting badly.
Anyway, I think this is enough to prove my point: robots are fucking dangerous! And why wouldn't they be? I mean, let's face it, all of US have at some point thought about killing all humans. If I were a robot, I'd probably want to kill all humans, too.

But, really, really, why would we want to build lifelike, near-human robots? I can think of two reasons: a) slaves, and b) children.

The former is a bad idea. Just bad. If we want to have slaves that can toil away endlessly and thanklessly on our behalf, sew our shirts, build our bridges, drive our taxis, etc., without our having to feel any guilt about them, why, why would we want them to look and act just like human beings so they can evoke all our empathic responses? No: lifelike robot slaves make no sense.*

It's indicative that these two recently-developed robots have been made to resemble real women. Sex-bot jokes aside, it's companionship we're really in search of. We want to escape our loneliness - not our loneliness as individuals, but the much deeper desire for a kindred species, a mirror humanity to satisfy and complete us. It's the same urge that drives any other relationship: to have another mind, another spirit, twin to our own, that can give us that crucial bit of recognition. It lets us be seen by something we can see as kin, and in so doing allows us to actually exist, to be a real thing in a real world.

So this is what motivated Geppetto to carve Pinocchio, Pygmalion to make Galatea, and (lest we forget) what prompted El to create Eve and Adam. This same desire underpins the incredibly popular SETI project: if we scour the sky closely enough, we might find our brothers out there somewhere, as real as us.

Probably this is the same desire that led us to dream up El in the first place. But now that he's dead, we're left alone in the dark again, waiting for a comforting hand to slip into our own - even a lifeless, mechanical one.

* Sorry, Blade Runner.


Fembots are mom replacements for guys who never want to grow up.

And even though we've all seen Blade Runner, we still find a female robot less threatening.

Also, you forgot about the original use for anatomically correct robots.

I love robots. I wish I was an android. It's one of my recurring fantasies. I'll tell you about it sometime.

we have many technical challenges ahead for the robot slaves. they will need to be able to grow themselves from easily found malleable materials, maintain and entertain themselves, replicate themselves, and pro-actively teach themselves. totally unfeasible.

Hmmm, that's a really interesting thought. I think that you might be right.

=v= My God! You never took middle school hygiene! You never saw the propaganda^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H public service announcement!

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