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Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships Paperback – November 4, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this wide-ranging examination of the emotional and physical relations between humans and the inanimate objects of their desire, AI guru Levy (Robots Unlimited) first addresses the question of love with robots, and moves on to consider the mechanics of actually having sex with them. In order to put the reader at ease with the possibility of human-robot love, Levy compares the phenomenon to the ways in which humans fall in love with each other, their pets, and even their motorcycles. From there, Levy argues, it is a short emotional step to the affection people can be expected to display towards robots. Some readers may be turned off by Levy's fairly graphic descriptions of the mechanics of having sex with robots, and may wonder why Levy chose not to include recent research on the human genome that could one day lead to replacing human "parts," potentially making us more robot-like ourselves. Though Levy's topic is undeniably on the fringe, it will appeal to readers keen on pondering futuristic scenarios.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Fascinating. It raises important questions about the future of robots…and what our interactions with them might teach us about ourselves. --New Scientist

[Levy] comes up with so many rational, scientific, and sociologically sound arguments that the deeper you get into the book, the more difficult it becomes to dismiss his thesis. --Chicago Sun-Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061359807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061359804
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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David Levy's book is divided into two and unequal parts, both in length and in interest. Most readers, I would imagine, if told that a book was divided into a longer section about future emotional relations between humans and robots and a shorter section on sex with robots would guess that the more interesting would be the latter. For me, at least, the opposite was the case. I was barely able to stay awake while reading the sex chapters, while I found the chapters dealing with potential emotional connections with robots to be fascinating. Levy makes, I believe, a convincing case that robots will play an increasingly important and essential role in human social life. If nothing else, the comparison between pets and robots is telling. There is no question that millions of humans treat pet animals as friends and have strong emotional connections with them. That we will feel similar ties to robots when the A.I. has developed to an extent to make genuine interaction possible seems to me to be impossible to debate. Or, rather, some may debate it, but many others will nonetheless employ robots as companions or more.

Much of the book is dedicated to detailing the reasons why humans and robots will before the end of the 21st century - indeed, Levy believes it will be around the midpoint of the century - humans will fall in love with and have sex with robots. He addresses issues such as the grounds for attachment, the technological hurdles that remain to be overcome, and the status of work on artificial intelligence. The sex portion of the book is a rather dull catalog of the use of inanimate objects to achieve sexual climax.
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Format: Paperback
Towards the end of this book, Levy described a project within the MIT Media Department dedicated his topic, "the technology of sexual-emotional simulation." The description of the goals and individual characteristics of those accepted to participate were precise, and demanding, including "personal experience with a wide array of sexual activities." I was taken aback that the developments that he expected to reach fruition only in a several decades was so accepted in the academic community. Then he told us that, as realistic as it was, it was a hoax, it was satire. There is no such project at MIT or anywhere else. In the same vein while every part of this book is extensively researched, Levy's tome is most useful as a mirror on our own conflicting revolutionary post 1950s era. Satire may not be the right word, but the most valuable effect of this informative compendium is that we think about just why humans and robots will never marry, and in doing so have a new insight into the lightening speed changes that have occurred in our unique brief moment in cultural history.

I fully accept that those who were depicted in the novel and films, "The Stepford Wives" who happened to be robots rather than human could be technically approximated in Levy's general timeframe. He talks about the great advantages, but here he is either satiric or clueless, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and call it brilliant Swiftian satire. While same sex marriage, however we may view it (and the cultural objections have been consigned to the work of evil psychopaths afflicted with the disease of homophobia) is a commitment of two humans who choose this relationship. Sex robots can not be a member of a marriage whether such realistic objects can be created in a few decades, centuries or millennia.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Given the reported emotional attachments that some soldiers have with the machines that sometimes save their lives, or AIBO owners to their robot dogs, it is easy to accept a book that discusses the possibility of actual love affairs or even sex with humanoid-like machines. From a purely sexual standpoint, this would be a natural evolution, as the title of this book suggests, given the wide use of sexual devices throughout history. But to fall in love with a robot would require that this type of machine be responsive to the needs and personal idiosyncrasies of its human counterpart, as well as be convincing in its need for companionship and intimacy. Such a machine would require a technology that is way beyond current capabilities, but given the rapidity of technological advance at the present time, especially in artificial intelligence, it is very plausible to assume that it will be available in a very short time.

This of course is not the first book to elaborate on the possibility of love affairs or sex with robots. Science fiction has used this in its story lines for many decades now. And Hollywood has brought these stories to life on the big screen, along with others that give alternative, and very terrifying portrayals of human-machine interactions. The virtue of this book is not only its careful attention to history, but also its optimistic tone. The author is in no way intimidated by the possibility of love or sexual affairs with machines, and even embraces it as a desirable development. And of course it is, for it allows humans even more possibilities for exploration and future paths for the curious.

The book is also valuable solely for the history that it contains, and for the psychological insight on the nature of human love and sexual attraction.
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