Talking to Harmony

At the end of June 2020, DIE WELT conducted an interview with Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel about sex robots and love dolls. It was especially about their natural language skills. Particularly owners and users who want to have a relationship are interested in conversations of all kinds, about God and the world and in the sense of “dirty talk”. Companies like Realbotix go very far in this respect. Harmony for example can talk to her partners for hours in a quite convincing way. The engineers experiment with GPT-2, but also with other language models. Kino Coursey, AI boss of Realbotix, deals with this topic in his article “Speaking with Harmony” for the book “Maschinenliebe” (“Machine Love”) which will be released in October. The interview with Oliver Bendel was published on 11 July 2020 in the printed edition of DIE WELT, under the title “Intelligente Sexroboter sind begehrte Gesprächspartner” (already published the day before in the electronic edition, under the title “Was Sexpuppen können” …). In addition, an English version – “Intelligent sex robots are sought-after dialogue partners” – is available.

Jealousy 4.0

The international workshop “Learning from Humanoid AI: Motivational, Social & Cognitive Perspectives” took place from 30 November – 1 December 2019 at the University of Potsdam. Dr. Jessica Szczuka raised the question: “What do men and women see in sex robots?” … Her talk was based on the paper “Jealousy 4.0? An empirical study on jealousy-related discomfort of women evoked by other women and gynoid robots” by herself and Nicole Krämer. In their introduction the authors write: “In a paper discussing machine ethics, Bendel asked whether it is ‘possible to be unfaithful to the human love partner with a sex robot, and can a man or a woman be jealous because of the robot’s other love affairs?’ … In this line, the present study aims to empirically investigate whether women perceive robots as potential competitors to their relationship in the same way as they perceive other women to be so. As the degree of human-likeness of robots contributes to the similarity between female-looking robots and women, we additionally investigated differences between machine-like female-looking robots and human-like female-looking robots with respect to their ability to evoke jealousy-related discomfort.” (Paper) The paper can be accessed here.

The Struggle of the German Bundestag with Explaining the Robotical Facts of Life

In July 2018, the German party FDP posed several questions to the German Bundestag to get more insight about the political strategy in the field of AI and robotics and its progress (see Drucksache 19/3714). One of those was about the handling of sexbots. The reply left the question more open than answered. This does not only show the still missing awareness of the urgency to be concerned with AI and robotics. It also shows the political ignorance towards this topic. Considering the number of commercial brothels already using love dolls, this is even more bothering. In Germany, at least one such establishment exists, in other countries like Switzerland or South Korea even more. In general, you have to define, whether sexual services provided by such dolls can be seen as prostitution and if so, how to extend the concerning laws (in case, they exists). In South Korea, for example, prostitution is illegal, what makes the police facing exactly this definition problem. For a country like Germany, where one of the most detailed and latest published laws about prostitution exists, you may think, the legislatory would react. Not to mention the arising ethical questions.