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by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
About the time I think I’ve seen it all or at least most of it, something new comes along that makes me just want to scratch my head and wonder about life on Planet Earth.
Having just watched a Robin Williams movie called “The Bicentennial Man” in which a robot desires to be made into a human and to experience love, hunger and emotions, I then come upon an article in the paper which describes the future of robots.

The article states that anyone under the age of thirty five will probably live long enough to witness the advent of sex robots. Dr. David Levy has just released a book entitled “Love and Sex with Robots.” Which, as you might imagine is about love and sex with robots.
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Dr. Levy, who apparently is well respected and not a quack, thinks that the Japanese will or I should say, are, at this time the leaders in the sex robot industry. Dr. Levy states that Japanese companies are already working to produce prototypes for remote Japanese fishing villages.

How nice.

Dr. Levy goes on to explain in his book that eventually anyone (male or female) will be able to purchase a robot with natural feeling skin which can simulate emotions and affections to the point as to where ‘they are absolutely convincing.’ He states that these machines will be a boom for lonely, physically unattractive humans or people living in remote or isolated areas of the world for long periods of time. Dr. Levy sees nothing wrong with this concept and compares it to a computer playing a game of chess against a human. In his words, if you can’t make any distinction between a robot and a human, then what difference does it make?

Of course, Dr. Levy does point out that there are a number of philosophical and ethical questions which might come into play. These include such things as if a robot hits your neighbor in the mouth, are you responsible? If your sex robot gets involved with your room mate (human) can you just throw the robot out with the trash? Could you marry a robot and if you did who gets your estate when you die? Dr. Levy states that sex robots would eventually put the prostitution industry out of business which leads me to ask a question… “If someone paid to have sex with a robot, would that be a crime?” Dr. Levy ends up his interview by saying that he and his wife would be willing to try robotic sex even though they are happily married.

“Just as a matter of genuine scientific curiosity” he added.

Certainly just like all us who once just read the articles in Playboy and never looked at the pictures.

I’m sorry folks; I have to tell you that I find an article such as this to be extremely depressing if it turned out to be true. I see more and more remoteness in our society than I see togetherness. Look at the popularity of such social contact webs sites such as MySpace and Facebook and their millions upon millions of so-called friends. Who are these people trying to be friends with? Why not just go next door and get to meet the neighbor? I asked some kids why they prefer to ‘text’ messages rather than calling someone on the phone. They explained that it allowed them to make a statement without having to actually talk to another live person. How sad.

Computers are wonderful tools, most of us use them everyday, but in my mind they should not be a substitute for real life human beings and real life relationships. When I drive through my neighborhood I am saddened by the lack of kids playing in the yards or on the streets. When I was a kid we never stayed indoors unless it was pouring down rain and sometimes not even then. Yes, I’ve ridden a bicycle in a rainstorm and actually lived to tell about it. Now we are raising hot house kids who are better friends with a television, computer, I-pod, video game or something other than the kid next door.

How sad for us as humans. Part of the adventure of growing up is the never ending change that we get to witness as we evolve through the various stages of our lives. We get to laugh and cry, sometimes in the same moment. Do you think a robot can ever be programmed to do such as this?

Life is not predicable and thank God for that. Who would want to live in a world where everything was programmed in advance and all emotions and responses were automated?

Not me. I like change, I like real people who can yell, laugh, argue, cry, smile and yes love me or dislike me for whatever reason. I want to interact with real people, not automated robots.

So, don’t come to my house and expect to ever see any of these things where I live. I’m not a good marketing prospect for anything like this.

On the other hand, could you vote for a robot or have one run for President?

Maybe they are with us already and we just don’t know it.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

February 7, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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