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.

A Handbook on Machine Ethics

After three years, an ambitious project has come to its preliminary end: The “Handbuch Maschinenethik” (“Handbook Machine Ethics”) (edited by Oliver Bendel) was published by Springer in mid-October 2019. It brings together contributions from leading experts in the fields of machine ethics, robot ethics, technology ethics, technology philosophy and robot law. At the moment it can be downloaded here: … It has become an extensive, a remarkable, a unique book. In a way, it is a counterpart to American research, which dominates the discipline: Most authors come from Europe and Asia. The editor, who has been involved with information ethics, robotics and machine ethics for 20 years and has been researching machine ethics intensively for eight years, is full of hope that the book will find its place in the standard literature on machine ethics, such as “Moral Machines” (2009) by Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen and “Machine Ethics” (2011) by Michael and Susan Leigh Anderson, and “Programming Machine Ethics” (2016) by Luís Moniz Pereira (with Ari Saptawijaya) and “Grundfragen der Maschinenethik” (2018) by Catrin Misselhorn – both have contributed significantly to the “Handbuch Maschinenethik”. Over the next few days, the book with its 23 chapters and 469 pages will be made available for sale on the Springer website and also in print.

The Reversed Cyborg

Chimeras in the biological and medical sense are organisms that consist of cells or tissues of different individuals and yet form closed and viable (not necessarily reproductive) organisms. They can be located within a species or between species and can be both plants and animals. There are natural (blood chimeras in mammals) and artificial mixed organisms (grafting in plants, animal-human embryos). Cyborgs are not chimeras in this sense. Nevertheless, research in this field might also be relevant for them, in particular for inverted or reversed cyborgs, for example robots in which an animal or human brain or organ is implanted. Animal-human chimeras for the production of human organs are regarded as unproblematic by many ethicists. According to a comment by Oliver Bendel, this is astonishing, since findings from animal ethics and veterinary medicine and in particular suffering and death of non-human living beings are ignored.