Stepford Wives, Blade Runner and Ex Machina are here

I have seen snippets about this, but my wife turned over to a Dr. Oz show today whose subject was about “sexbots.” If you have not seen these, they exist, look somewhat real, and have artificial intelligence. Yikes. Dr. Oz first interviewed psychologists, one who was alarmed, while the other who felt it was OK. The former noted those who would be missing out on real intimacy plus some who may have a tendency to act out more violent fantasies, while the latter noted that people need companionship even if electronic.

Then, he interviewed one of the inventors, who dutifully said it is like owners talking with pets, with the robot being more of a companion. The robots were programmed with favorite movies, books, etc. that could be espoused, if asked. He noted if the owner tried to treat the robot violently (sexual assault, rape), it would shut down. He added with such a high cost (about US$10,000), it would be bad for the owner to treat the robot poorly.

And, if that was not a bridge too far, he said some have made the robot look like a former wife who had passed away. The thought of “Stepford Wives” came to mind. As for the companionship, I was recalling the recent “Blade Runner 2049” movie which updated the earlier version made in the early 1980s. In both, the “replicants” included some that were built to be consorts to men (and I presume women), where few of the opposite sex were present. In the latter, one of the replicants had a holographic live-in girlfriend who offered the companionship. The theme of “Ex Machina” is about a talented AI programmer being asked to test a lifelike, attractive companion.

So, what about this? In the category of “to each his (or her) own,” I guess if this is what floats your boat and provides a solution to loneliness, so be it. I guess we each have fantasy lovers that we can dream about, so is this a natural evolution? Yet, it still gives me the willies. Plus, most movies about robots usually do not end well for humans. So, maybe this could lead to our extinction or replacement. Maybe it will lead to test tube babies as in “Brave New World.” Or, maybe we will become cyborgs like the group in “Star Trek Next Generation” called “The Borg” a collective intelligence embodied in former humanoids.

Tell me what you think? Is this a good thing or a horrible path to follow? I did think of a humorous use for women if they had their own sexbot. The robot would have to be adept at foreplay and cuddling, but would also take out the trash and do the dishes without being asked and could fix a clogged drain or install a dimmer switch. And, if it needed to ask directions, it would do so. But, that internal GPS would forego the need.


27 thoughts on “Stepford Wives, Blade Runner and Ex Machina are here

  1. I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a cyborg, but with a full human mind. I can imagine the many advantages of such a body, enhanced senses, self-healing, elimination of pain, sickness, ability to upgrade the brain part, to fit into a robotic exoskeleton, it’s certainly not a problem to me, as I say, as long as the human MIND remains in control. That way nothing really important changes: same philosophy, same moral values (or lack thereof), same belief systems. Really, if you honestly assess the typical human being, there’s not much to lose there. Robotics can only improve the creature. If people could see their actual future they would be beyond amazed. But first we have to get through this current reality show of pointless fears of what is unavoidable.

    • Sha’Tara, you never fail to have an interesting view. I do think things are unavoidable, yet with many inventions they can be used for good and bad. As long as your interesting mind can survive your cyborg body. Best wishes in your endeavors, Keith

      • My kind of discussion here, Keith.
        The way I see it, a powerful mind, that is, a self empowered mind, can survive anything. As to inventions, we have so many inventions now it’s like our laws: no one knows what’s what anymore. What we do know, or can see, is the growing backlash, not from the inventions themselves but from their short-sighted applications and misuse. In some sci-fi, healthy brains extracted from damaged bodies were installed in space ships and used as guiding computers (The Ship Who Sang, e.g.) but then this led to the deliberate extractions from perfectly healthy humans, essentially killing a child or young person to collect its brain and train it to guide war ships since due to attrition, the need for brains exceeded the availability. In my view then, a healthy cyborg with a self empowered mind would be no different that a human with such a mind in today’s world. As any genius it would be sought after by the highest bidders to be brainwashed or reprogrammed and used for warfare. The cyborg would have to defend herself/himself against this, of course. So really, I see the difference as quantitative, not qualitative.

      • Sha’Tara, what is the line from the “Spiderman” movie? “With great power comes great responsibility.” I think we can invent the power, it is the responsibility part where we tend to be lacking. Interesting discussion. Keith

      • Kertsen, to prove your point, an easy example is would people remember phone numbers of their family and friends should they be required to call one without use of their own phones? Keith

      • Yes but thanks to that same technology we now know, are aware of, and can do, thousands of things someone in, say, the dark ages would have no idea about. It’s always a trade off. Can’t blame technology for that. Technology means change, evolution. That it is being grossly misused isn’t the fault of technology, as Shakespeare remarked, “The fault dear Brutus isn’t in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings.” We are the ones who decide how to use our minds, a machine is just a machine. I spent 40 plus years installing and repairing machines for Coca Cola. The product was free, but I didn’t indulge it. Had the odd drink on a hot day perhaps, then when they started selling water, I used that. I maintain, we are minds. The question is, are we self disciplined? Self empowered? Self motivated? Or do we follow the sheeple and the propaganda to the easy way out as we have always done when technology was a fanatical teacher? A science manual full of misinformation? A demagogue totalitarian leader? An ingrained belief system? How long would it take me to write down my friends’ and clients’ phone numbers if cell phone technology failed? A day, at the most a week. How long to remember the most common ones? The same amount of time it took when our phone lives were circumscribed by the big, fat, phone book. I’d have that little note book in the left breast pocket of my jacket and… where’s that phone booth? It always comes back to me. How do I choose to make use what is available to me?

      • All good points, Sha’ Tara. I am reminded, though, of the Star Trek episode where the aliens had improved so much, they for forgot how to fix the machines. I agree technology is a tool. One of things I do when I call someone using it, I recite the phone number in my head to remember it. You will laugh at this, I bank online, but still balance my checkbook without a calculator, so I stay fresh at arithmetic. Thanks for your comments. Keith

  2. I confess I have daydreams about the perfect man/robot, who would cheerfully cook, clean, wash windows, provide great sex and then get into his closet until morning…….and then a snore from real hubby asleep in his chair brings me back to reality! Bless his heart, I’m sure he has his daydreams too.

    • Francine, you could park him/it right by the vacuum cleaner. Of course, we have robots for that now, too. One of my favorite commercials is about the adjustable bed which allows two different sides of adjustments. When the husband snores, the wife tilts his bed forward. Then, when she starts to snore, you see his hand go up with the remote control. Please do stop by again, when you are not fantasizing. Keith

      • Kertsen, you reminded me of the kids and young adults who became dangerously malnourished after gaming for two days online and failing to eat and drink. Keith

  3. And when comes the day when the owner forms an emotional attachment to their bot?
    Or when some group decide these are offenses to God (someone always does) and attacks the owners?
    And who would ‘come out’ and admit they had one? And what would be the social reaction.
    We could go on and on. We are into Robert Sheckley territory here.
    The trouble is this will come to pass, if there is a market, then someone will be willing to provide for the need, or create the need.
    On the happier side companies could provide bots that are programmed to be worse at golf, squash, chess etc than the owner, now that one would sell!

    • Roger, that would definitely sell. Would it also cede “gimme putts” that are longer than they should be? In my old life, we called that “client golf” Trying to speed up and assuage a client ego, you would say over a four footer, “Oh, that putt is good.”

      In the “Stepford Wives” movie, the Katherine Ross’ character sensed something was amiss, when she and another “non-robot” wife heard a robot wife screaming with pleasure over a man they felt did not warrant such volume of screaming. A man’s ego is such a fragile thing… Keith

    • Emotional attachments are already very strong to all sorts of technology because they make our lives more cosy and keep our human contacts at the right distance. I can switch off the chat room but my wife will keep on talking.

      • I’m happy to listen to my wife all day, but 20 mins with my laptop and I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman out of Full Metal Jacket.
        It is my conviction all devices have a malicious aspect in their wiring.

      • Good comments. To Ketsten’s point, technology is being used to compartmentalize and control human contact. That is good with some, but limits real conversation when it is needed and appropriate.

        Roger, you sound like you limit your technology time to get more of that contact. I am similar, but I do use all means to communicate. There are some in my life where it is better for my psyche to have brief text conversations (someone who complains about everything or is looking for an audience, eg). Yet, I am reminded that detailed conversations or push back need voice conversations.

        Technology is a powerful tool in both directions. Keith

  4. When the first vibrators came on the market it was the start of a sexual revolution , satisfaction could be carried in the pocket . I wonder if Volta who invented the first crude battery realised it’s potential?

      • I’m reminded of the Novel ‘ Porterhouse blue ‘ by Tom Sharpe it contains a blow up doll which leads to some hilarious scenes. Blow up dolls have been around for sometime they were on full display in the Soho sex shops in London, sexbots are but a natural extension.

      • Agreed. I remember Dudley Moore in a movie with Goldie Hawn where he had such an inflatable creature. She was not impressed.

  5. Dear Keith,

    I’m afraid I like human contact. Because I have been single for enough years and I have always been comfortable with my own company, I am somewhat selective but I do value my friendships and family. Over the last few years, I have lost one good friend which was a big loss for me but it was unavoidable. Four have passed away which I find really troubling. But there are new peoples and new experiences out there.

    I’m afraid I am technically challenged and so for sure, I’m not interested in robots.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, amen sister. When I worked and we had a SME (subject matter expert) from my company on the phone, I tried to be with our client in person, as you cannot read body language over the phone. I could interject if the client was not understanding the point or the SME was not being a good listener. Keith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.