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Yes, Humans will pretty much bang anything. - Elf M. Sternberg
Yes, Humans will pretty much bang anything.
Have you ever read a newspaper article in your area of expertise and cringed as the reporter, who's obviously a tourist, gets so much wrong amongst all the factoids he's trying to cover? I had that experience today reading Sam Brinson's recent article Are We Destined To Fall In Love With Androids?.

Yeah, that. I mean, let's just start with the title. Nobody except George Lucas calls them "androids" anymore. They're just robots. "Android" is a brand name we use for the computers we carry around in our pockets.

Brinson starts talking about how wildly inventive human beings are about sex. He says we're exceptionally smart as a species, and exceptionally strange (note how judgemental that word is) in our sexual habits. "We are one of the few species that ... engage(s) in same sex relationships." Except that same-sex relationships are actually pretty flippin' common, something that could easily have been determined with a simple search of the Internet. He adds, "[W]e substitute people for expensive phallic toys, or opt for the company of inflatable dolls with what look like expressions of shock." Guilty as charged in buying expensive phallic toys, but they are most certainly not a substitute for sex partners. This is slander about people's masturbation habits.

Brinson says, "As far as I know, nobody is designing a four-legged sex doll." Oh, brother Brinson, have I got news for you.. Once the technology gets good enough, those who can afford it will be buying their toys in all shapes and sizes; furries are already working hard to get their needs met.

Brinson admits he's "sufficiently creeped out" just thinking about his own narrow expectations, while worrying about "keeping the Earth populated."

Science fiction writers such as myself have been addressing these questions for years (grief, that Asimov story was 1951!), with varying degrees of success. Those of us who really gave a damn actually read Daniel Dennett and contemplated the meaning of our own inner lives, and what it means to have an inner life, and even what it means to have agency, contingency, consciousness, and the difference between consciousness and will.

Yes, some people do already find greater pleasure in their toys than they do in their fellow human beings. It has always been thus. The fear that the toys may get so good we eventually find the number of people satisficing on them grows by leaps and bounds, but I hardly think the Earth is in danger of rapid depopulation. We're much more in danger of ecological catastrophe than we are wasting our seed on sufficiently humane companions.

The worry that some men will opt out of the dating game because a robot companion is more amenable to their wishes doesn't seem like such a bad idea, given that such men are the ones most likely to be abusive to a partner who isn't as malleable or submissive as he was taught by the toxic kind of masculinity he absorbed.

Brinson asks, "What’s more, the ethical and moral concerns are going to be nightmares. At what point does the company of a doll become an affair?" There are already men who feel threatened by their wives' vibrators. We are talking about a difference in degree, not of kind. And yes, I fully expect that in 50 years a robot with full-on machine learning will be better at meeting your individual needs, in bed and out. Emotional labor is hard work; maybe it is time to let the machines do it the way they've replaced digging trenches or calculating tax returns.

Obviously, Brinson's naivete annoyed me to drop 700 word or so on the subject. It's just one of those things where, you know, we've talked about this, and written about it, and all of the sociological thinking is already out there. If only someone had bothered to look. This is not a case of Betteridge's Law, because the answer is unequivocally "Yes."

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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sirfox From: sirfox Date: February 2nd, 2017 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)
"Have you ever read a newspaper article in your area of expertise and cringed as the reporter, who's obviously a tourist, gets so much wrong amongst all the factoids he's trying to cover?"

I have, I also remember a very telling observation on this, that we read this article, sigh, facepalm, offer profanity to an indifferent ceiling fan, and decry the author as a bozo with no clue, insight, or perspective into the topic at hand...

Then we turn to the next page and read a different article that isn't in our field of deep expertise and knowledge and assume the author knows what the spit they're talking about.
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