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Monday, December 03, 2007

HighTech-Love

I don't plan to marry again, but if for some reason I must, I might consider tying that knot with a robot.

As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up. Artificial-intelligence expert David Levy's new book, Love + Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, makes a compelling case for the development of real human-robot partnerships -- by 2050.

I'll be 80 by then, but who cares? With the help of aphrodisiac pharmaceuticals, I'll be as randy and functional as ever, with a wealth of experience I absolutely plan to gain between now and then.

Here are 10 reasons I'd consider a robo-marriage:

Robots are more than sex machines.


Levy gives an example of a robot that can predict human movement well enough to dance without stepping on its partner's feet. Fancy footwork might even be the top reason women will choose robotic partners: Sex is easy to find, but dancing? Good luck finding a man who is both a) available and b) willing to try.

Artificial intelligence is still intelligence.


While a robot partner would never be my equal in a relationship -- it can't be, as long as I control the on-off switch -- it could still challenge me intellectually. According to Levy, romantic robot AI will include emotional and social intelligence as well as analytical smarts. And if AI advances so much that robots develop self-will? The whole "could a human love a robot?" question becomes moot, as the robot is now officially a person. Either that or the roles will reverse, and the robots will use us as sex slaves.

Robots are sensitive and responsive.


A robot partner can measure my respiration, heart rate, skin temperature and more using its biofeedback sensors. It knows exactly when I'm turned on, when I'm withdrawing, when I'm approaching climax; it knows my body better than I do. I don't have to make any effort to communicate my needs or to figure out my partner's -- what a relief to set that burden down! A robot also knows when to leave me alone, so I don't have to risk hurting its feelings by declining its advances. In fact, in this relationship, the robot does all the work, learning by trial and error, taking all the risks and adapting to my moods and whims. Sounds like a match made in heaven ... or by Honda.

A robot will only create drama if I want it to.


The only emotional drama I'll get into with my robot partner is what I've programmed into it. No jealousy, no hormones, no overtired crankiness, no insecurity, no 'tude. This might bore folks who thrive on crisis, so I imagine robots will come with a Drama setting that ranges from 0 (yogic bliss) to 10 (living hell). My machine will be set to, hmmm, let's see ... 0. I'll get my drama from novels and holovids, thankyouverymuch.

Robots have off switches.


I'm a solitary extrovert, which has been an issue in past relationships when I needed -- and took -- more alone time than my partner liked. With a robot, I won't have to worry about whether I'm neglecting the relationship when I need to camp out in my cave for a week or two. If the robot's artificial emotional intelligence includes a tendency to feel lonely or abandoned, I can simply switch it off until I return. Bonus: If your spouse is a robot, your in-laws also have off switches.

Accessories.


Heh.

Robots are available for sexual adventure without elaborate discussions, permissions or restrictions.

My robot partner is not going to have flashes of jealousy or performance anxiety when brought out to play with one or more human lovers. It can top, bottom or switch; serve cocktails; and clean up spills. It won't tire or cramp just when things are reaching their peak, nor will its feelings be hurt if no one ends up touching it.

The safest sex on the planet.


A robot lover means no sexually transmitted infections, no unwanted pregnancy, no doubts that the partner you think you know is just the online persona of some teenager in Botswana. And, if constructed of high-quality, latex-free, antibacterial, hypoallergenic materials, the robot will cause limited disruption to a woman's delicate pH balance.

A robot can be a personal trainer for sex.


Whatever we're doing now to explore our sexuality online prepares us for what we'll discover with futuristic mechanical lovers. I think my wedding gift to myself would be the complete Kama Sutra package.

A robot is forever -- at least until the warranty runs out.


What the human-robot marriage lacks in challenge, growth and balance, it makes up for with steadfast, unchanging devotion. At least on the robot's side. If you changed, you could just reprogram or upgrade your robot partner to like the new you.


In Love + Sex With Robots, Levy explains how human-robot love can become a reality. I believe him, but I also know you can't have a true partnership without risk. Having an unshakable, programmable partner would undoubtedly delete the human drama from the relationship. Or would it? I can easily see a person sobbing in a robot's arms, wondering why the marriage feels so ... empty.

A robot spouse could be perfect. Too perfect. A few years of slavish worship would be enough to ruin any of us. It's the occasional wobbliness that provides the challenges that keep a relationship interesting and real.

Maybe they should run the robots on Windows.

See you in a fortnight,

Regina Lynn
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