Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Once you go bot . . .

you never go back," Stephen Colbert joked the other night. He was interviewing the author of Love and Sex with Robots on the Colbert Report about a new book on forming emotional attachments to robots. If my recent exposure to Second Life is any indication, some people are already forming attachments to avatars, which are more machine than human, in my opinion. From the reviews (Washington Post, for example) I've briefly glimpsed at, it seems like the author, David Levy, is more concerned with the mechanics of the interaction, imagining sex bots and new sex techniques, than he is with the emotion. As humans become increasingly more posthuman, I think the real transformation will be when robots themselves can fall in love with us - at which point, they'll probably just want to fall in love with each other. It does bring up all kinds of philosophical issues about free will and programming, which is as much an issue of how much free will (or determinative programming) we think humans have. To create sex bots, it will mean that we are capable of seeing ourselves as sex bots.

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