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I remembered the same Asimov´s story Daniel has quoted. Asimov explored quite well the reactions of the human partner, but also the concerns of the robotic one, trying to take care of a human partner under the rule of the three laws.
But we must also recall another early exploration to this issue in the relationship between Gladia Delmarre and the robot Jander in the series of Elijah Bailey´s stories. Seems the article writer was a little hurried in commenting Devlin work, when he stated none had explored robots and sexuality before :)
“Many of these concerns overlap with present controversies regarding AI in general, but in this realm, tied so closely with the most profound manifestations of human intimacy, they feel more personal and controversial. Perhaps as a result, Devlin has a self-admitted tendency at times to slip into somewhat heavy-handed feminist polemics, which can overshadow or obscure possible alternative interpretations to some questions…”
Wow, are you really saying that since Devlin is a woman, these topics are too emotional for her to view it from all angles? She’s an academic. She has viewed the alternatives, considered them, and discarded them. This reeks of the “only white men can be objective” fallacy.
To be fair to Wolverton, I read Devlin’s book. It is well researched, and her discussions aren’t mere polemics. She provides balanced views on all of the topics, including background and opposing viewpoints. Excluding feminist academic discourse would falsely portray the discussions occurring around this topic. Feminism isn’t tangential or polemic in this context, it is central.
But I suppose that “Many of these concerns overlap with present controversies regarding” feminism “in general, but in this realm, tied so closely with the most profound manifestations of human intimacy, they feel more personal and controversial. Perhaps as a result,” Wolverton has a tendency to discredit feminist academic discourse as polemics. -_-
See, I had the perfect image for this from the TV show Futurama and “Robosexuals” and Undark doesn’t allow image uploads in comments…
I am turning up my washer machine to extra extra high spin cycles. I want my head the fly off. Can you imagine we reproduce with washer machines and we have all these little washing machines running around that look like me. Just make sure they vibrate.
“Why such emphasis on feminine bots rather than male?”
That’s only if you define robots to exclude all the electrically powered sex toys that women seem to like.
Dr. Asimov dealt with this topic way back in 1951 in his short story “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. The plot revolves around an experimental robot embodied as a very handsome male, who is placed in the home of a U.S. Robotics scientist to see how his wife would react to interacting with such a human-like robot. She’s at first very scared, but her husband assures her that the Three Laws of Robotics make the robot perfectly safe. But she also happens to feel very inadequate as a home maker and as a woman and with her social peers. During the several weeks that the robot is there, it first helps her clean and redecorate the house, then bolsters her self-esteem in various ways, and finally makes a pass at her in view of all of her uppity female “friends”. Those other women are shocked and impressed and envious that such an apparently insignificant woman would be cheating on her husband with such an incredibly handsome lover. The explanation for all this turned out to be that the robot had to obey the First Law and prevent the wife from coming to harm, which in this case was her own sense of inadequacy. But the real problem which the experiment revealed was not that a robot could fall in love with a human, but that a human could fall in love with a robot, as the wife ended up doing without realizing it.
Isaac Asimov was a dirty old man. I am sure he would think, first of all, that humans would embrace it (see his book, *I, Robot*) so to speak, and that there would be a societal need for it. If not innate, then acquired.
——– perhaps eric asimov (NYTimes wine editor ) can shed some light ?
Hi, Mark– nice Article, but you did not delve enough into Asimov. He already has given us his position on this subject, and it seems Ms. Devlin does not know her Asimov, either.
Please read Robots of Dawn. Quite ground breaking work on the issue of sexually active robots including the ethical issues.
As for his having ‘robot bias’, on the contrary. His ideas stand up well considering there was no such thing as even a remotely viable robot when he wrote his books.