July 5, 2017 12:19 pm

Android love dolls: Experts warn of growing ‘sextech’ market

ABOVE: Sergi Santos, the inventor of a "sex robot" named Samantha describes what "she" is capable of.

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Move over blow-up dolls, the sex robots are here.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic “sextech” designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.

In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics said rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” capable of performing 50 automated sexual positions.

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They can be customized down to the nipple shape and pubic hair color, and can cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

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In Spain, a robot has been built by Catalan nanotechnology engineer Sergi Santos, who aimed to create a robot that is closer to a partner than a sex toy. His “Samantha” is a sex robot with the capacity to respond to both verbal and physical stimulus.

“Samantha has got intelligence, has got physiological intelligence,” Santos said in an interview with Reuters. “Samantha knows when you are next to her, that you want to spend time with her, maybe you are on the sofa you want to watch TV and she will be very pleasant. She won’t say anything grotesque or unpleasant to anybody, she’ll be very polite.”

Equipped with sensors, a speaker and a microphone, Samantha’s responses are driven by microprocessor and an artificial intelligence algorithm.

“She can reach the orgasm and I think that it’s a very interesting thing,” Santos said. “But she can do many other things.”

The increasingly life-like robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report said — including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders, or for people with disabilities.

Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Britain’s University of Sheffield, said it was difficult to predict how far or fast the market would grow, or what its effect on societies might be in years ahead.

“Will these robotic dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?” he asked at a news briefing. “How would (sex with a robot) equate to a truly human intimate relationship?”

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The report looked at some of the most contentious issues, asking academics, members of the public and the sex industry for their views on whether, for example, sex robots might be helpful in reducing sexual crimes.

It found “major disagreement” on this question, with some arguing that having sex with a robot would reduce attackers’ desires to harm fellow humans, and others arguing that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms.

On the issue of “meaningful” relationships, the report said that with current AI technology, and even in the foreseeable future, no human-to-robot feelings would ever be mutual.

“The best robots could do is ‘fake it,'” it said. “Robots cannot feel love.”

© 2017 Reuters

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