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Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships

Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships

Hardback

By (author) David Levy

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 231mm x 36mm | 544g
  • Publication date: 6 December 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0061359750
  • ISBN 13: 9780061359750
  • Illustrations note: 20 black and white photos
  • Sales rank: 1,247,369

Product description

Love, marriage, and sex with robots? Not in a million years? Maybe a whole lot sooner.From a leading expert in artificial intelligence comes an eye-opening, superbly argued book that explores a new level of human intimacy and relationships—with robots. From Pygmalion falling for his chiseled Galatea to Dr. Frankenstein marveling at his "modern Prometheus" to the man-meets-machine fiction of Philip K. Dick and Michael Crichton, humans have been enthralled by the possibilities of emotional relationships with their technological creations. Synthesizing cutting-edge research in robotics with the cultural history and psychology of artificial intelligence, Love and Sex with Robots explores this fascination and its far-reaching implications. Using examples drawn from around the world, David Levy shows how automata have evolved from the mechanical marvels of centuries past to the electronic androids of the modern age, and how human interactions with technology have changed over the years. Along the way, Levy explores many aspects of human relationships—the reasons we fall in love, why we form emotional attachments to animals and to virtual pets such as the Tamagotchi, and why these same attachments could extend to love for robots. He also examines the needs we seek to fulfill through sexual relationships, tracking the development of life-sized dolls, machines, and other sexual devices, and demonstrating how society's ideas about what constitutes normal sex have changed—and will continue to change—as sexual technology becomes increasingly sophisticated. Shocking but utterly convincing, Love and Sex with Robots provides insights that are surprisingly relevant to our everyday interactions with technology. This is science brought to life, and Levy makes a compelling and titillating case that the entities we once deemed cold and mechanical will soon become the objects of real companionship and human desire. Anyone reading the book with an open mind will find a wealth of fascinating material on this important new direction of intimate relationships, a direction that, before long, will be regarded as perfectly normal.

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Editorial reviews

By mid-century, people will be marrying robots, asserts Levy, author of numerous books on chess, computers and artificial intelligence (Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age, 2005, etc.).To doubt that, he writes, is to be unaware of the rapid progress being made in artificial intelligence, materials science and other relevant technological areas. Levy explores the changing relationship between humans and robots, from industrial and service robots to children's toys and virtual pets - think Tamagotchi - to the caregiver robots being developed in Japan to help the elderly. Once a more human-like appearance can be achieved, says Levy, robots will move on to roles as companions and lovers. He analyzes the reasons people fall in love with each other and finds the same reasons applicable to human-robot relationships. He notes that social mores regarding marriage are changing, and he predicts that the combination of dynamic changes in social and cultural thinking with major advances in technology will move society toward acceptance of human-robot marriage. The advantages - a partner programmed to one's individual desires, one that can never truly die or fall out of love - are considerable. As for sex with a robot, Levy devotes an illustrated chapter to technological solutions to the problems facing the amorous human partner, ranging from old-fashioned mechanical devices to virtual-reality software systems. It's easy for the casual reader to be swept along by Levy's assumptions and arguments, so that statements such as, "If we can accept that a robot can think, then there is no good reason we should not also accept that it could have feelings of love and feelings of lust" may seem reasonable on first reading, but highly questionable upon deeper reflection. Levy is willing to go far out on a limb with his predictions, and even the reader who remains unconvinced may well enjoy this thought-provoking and entertaining ride into the future. (Kirkus Reviews)