I was planning on reporting this last year but was reminded of this story again by Arno’s comment on an earlier posting about anthropomorphism of robots.
Last August, the body of a girl was found by walkers in a remote wooded area in Japan. It was wrapped in a bag and bound round the neck and ankles. The police immediately launched a murder investigation. Don’t worry the image is not what it seems. Several hours later the post-mortem revealed that the ‘corpse’ was in fact a sophisticated sex doll. Police thought it was a prank but in fact, the doll had been dumped by a 60-year-old man who had lived with the doll for several years following the death of his wife.
Arno alerted me to the post by Sherry Turkle about the future of robotic partners. She very correctly points out that most humans need companionship in whatever form it takes. The Tamagotchi phenomenon several years ago revealed that we nurture what we love but we also love what we nurture. These little electronic pets had to be fed, played with and the owners had to clean up after its digital messes. As Turkle points out, Tamagotchis demonstrated that in digital sociability, nurturance is a “killer app.” But then her post moves into really interesting territory. Why not marry a robot? In his book, “Love and Sex with Robots,” computer scientist David Levy predicts such a future.
Sex with an object is acceptable (after all what about all those sales of “toys”), but I think that even the most sophisticated robot would be lacking in human essence. Levy’s vision fails to take into account that we fall in love and desire the essence of another individual, something that the most sophisticated programmer can not achieve.