Synopses & Reviews
Love, marriage, and sex with robots? Not in a million years? Maybe a whole lot sooner. From a leading expert in artificial intelligence comes an eye-opening, superbly argued book that explores a new level of human intimacy and relationships: with robots.
From Pygmalion falling for his chiseled Galatea to Dr. Frankenstein marveling at his "modern Prometheus" to the man-meets-machine fiction of Philip K. Dick and Michael Crichton, humans have been enthralled by the possibilities of emotional relationships with their technological creations. Synthesizing cutting-edge research in robotics with the cultural history and psychology of artificial intelligence, Love and Sex with Robots explores this fascination and its far-reaching implications.
Using examples drawn from around the world, David Levy shows how automata have evolved from the mechanical marvels of centuries past to the electronic androids of the modern age, and how human interactions with technology have changed over the years. Along the way, Levy explores many aspects of human relationships: the reasons we fall in love, why we form emotional attachments to animals and to virtual pets such as the Tamagotchi, and why these same attachments could extend to love for robots. He also examines the needs we seek to fulfill through sexual relationships, tracking the development of life-sized dolls, machines, and other sexual devices, and demonstrating how society's ideas about what constitutes normal sex have changed (and will continue to change), as sexual technology becomes increasingly sophisticated.
Shocking but utterly convincing, Love and Sex with Robots provides insights that are surprisingly relevant to our everyday interactions with technology. This is science brought to life, and Levy makes a compelling and titillating case that the entities we once deemed cold and mechanical will soon become the objects of real companionship and human desire. Anyone reading the book with an open mind will find a wealth of fascinating material on this important new direction of intimate relationships, a direction that, before long, will be regarded as perfectly normal.
"In this wide-ranging examination of the emotional and physical relations between humans and the inanimate objects of their desire, AI guru Levy (Robots Unlimited) first addresses the question of love with robots, and moves on to consider the mechanics of actually having sex with them. In order to put the reader at ease with the possibility of human-robot love, Levy compares the phenomenon to the ways in which humans fall in love with each other, their pets, and even their motorcycles. From there, Levy argues, it is a short emotional step to the affection people can be expected to display towards robots. Some readers may be turned off by Levy's fairly graphic descriptions of the mechanics of having sex with robots, and may wonder why Levy chose not to include recent research on the human genome that could one day lead to replacing human 'parts,' potentially making us more robot-like ourselves. Though Levy's topic is undeniably on the fringe, it will appeal to readers keen on pondering futuristic scenarios." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Levy is willing to go far out on a limb with his predictions, and even the reader who remains unconvinced may well enjoy this thought-provoking and entertaining ride into the future." Kirkus Reviews
"Levy's book is entertaining in parts, such as the eye-opening (even climactic) section on the evolution of vibrators....But throughout Love and Sex with Robots
, there's a recurring sense of the writer trying a little too hard: Every brick must be carefully laid as he builds the great edifice of his thesis." Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
Synthesizing breaking news in the field of robotics with the cultural history, technological development, art, literature, and psychology of artificial intelligence, Love and Sex with Robots is popular science at its diverting andndash;andndash; and eyeandndash;opening andndash;andndash; best. Starting with the ways in which robots have supplemented human domesticity from the Renaissance to the modern age, David Levy proceeds to document the ways in which humans form affection for animate things, from pets to common household devices that employ responsive technology. He then explains how conditioning oneself to interact with such things engenders both communication and dependence in their owners andndash;andndash; and how such interaction can lead to amorous feelings. In the second part of the book, Levy uses that amorous connection as a springboard to explore how physical intimacy between humans and robots is the next logical step in an ageandndash;old correlation between love and sex. Toss in the rapidly expanding sex toy industry andndash;andndash; and its far reach from the US to Japan and everywhere in between andndash;andndash; and you have a global trend, one that is by turns surprising, troubling, and titillating.
From Pygmalion falling for his chiseled Galatea to Dr. Frankenstein marveling in both awe and terror at his "modern Prometheus" to the manandndash;meetsandndash;machine fiction of Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, and Michael Crichton, readers have been enthralled by the possibilities of interaction between technological creations and themselves. Shocking yet wildly informative, Love and Sex with Robots builds on that fascination to show how entities we once deemed benign and unresponsive may very well turn out to be objects of real, human desire.
From the story of Dr. Frankenstein to the man-machine fiction of Philip K. Dick, readers have been enthralled by the possibilities of interaction between technological creations and themselves. This work builds on that fascination to show how technological entities may very well turn out to be objects of real, human desire.
About the Author
David Levy is an internationally recognized expert on artificial intelligence. He is president of the International Computer Games Association and in 1997 led the team that won the Loebner Prize the world championship for conversational computer software. In 2006 he became the first person ever to present papers on intimate relationships with robotic partners at an international conference. He is also the author of Robots Unlimited. Levy lives in London with his wife, Christine, and their cat.