The Automaton of Spontaneity

Asimo. That’s Honda’s humanoid android that’s 4 feet tall. Huge fuss over the little pipsqueak because it directed the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, although it was programmed before hand to do a series of gestures. So I’d hardly call that conducting, more like what actors do in sex scenes: fake it.

And why all this interest in the robot? There’s all this excitement over the fact that it can walk, talk, jump, recognize moving objects, gesture, recognize sound, avoid objects, do face recognition, and can connect to the Web.

Isn’t anyone aware that we humans can do all these things already — and without much hubris hullabaloo about it. If Honda or anyone else wants to impress us as a species they should create androids that can levitate and fly, use telepathy, recognizing moving objects in another dimension, gesture to some future event, recognize sounds in the farthest reaches of the universe, recognize our ancestors’ faces in ours and bring them to life, and connect to some higher being.

Then I might be impressed. But I’m no more impressed by Asimo than I am that Hilary Clinton is still trying to win instead of conceding to Obama.

And what’s with all these sex bots? It’s the future, I’m told.

“You say you want a cybersexual revolution, oh yeah….”

The ultimate dream of consumerism: the robo-lover. They’ll do the dishes, weed the garden, clean the house, and then pleasure you with their fingers (which are hopefully clean). Supposedly, writes David Levy, who has written this book Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, orgasms will be superlative and our living rooms immaculate in the near future (he imagines it all to happen by 2050 — which will make me 82! I know by that age I might need some help hoovering the house, but a blow job?)

He even goes on to say that marriage with robots will be legalized. But who will come to the wedding? Will the robot have a family? And will it give birth to a litter of microchips, baby laptops, or all these look-alike Datas from Star Trek?

I’m not sure how I feel about it. A part of me says, yippee, no more menial chores and then a part of me says but living is made up of the mundane. And what about the masses who were kept busy and out of my way with such chores? What will they do now that they are suddenly relieved of them? What will they do with all that leisure? It’s frightening. A thick goulash of people nervously awaiting something, but they don’t know what, as they get pleasured and run fingers over everything and find no dust. Will the spirit be something you can go and play with in virtual space? And all those bots busy working and despising us and pleasing us until we become clay in their hands and then they rule us and we become their playthings.

And what’s wrong with the sex toys we have? Half of humanity probably hasn’t even used them, so why create new ones? Instead of creating new pleasure domes where we can all revel in the sensuous, how about freeing up some time so we can all engage with the inner life. And if we want more sex and pleasure, why not just reduce the work week allowing us more time to indulge?

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