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Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

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The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial intelligence raises very real concerns. Sexual activity is central to our very existence; it shapes how we think, how we act and how we live. With advances in technology come machines that may one day think independently. What will happen to us when we form close relationships with these intelligent systems? Chapter by chapter, this book will build on the science and the philosophy surrounding our most intimate relationship with technology. The scene is set with the history of the artificial sexual companion, then goes on to explore the "modern" robot and the twentieth century sci-fi that promised us our own robot slaves. An explanation of artificial intelligence and the urge to create sentient machines delves into our own psychology: how does desire affect our own behavior, and can we become attached to an inanimate object? Can robots make society a better place? And what can go wrong? Sex robots are here, and here to stay--and more are coming. This book explores how the emerging and future development of sexual companion robots might affect us, and our society. It explores the social changes arising from emerging technologies, and our relationships with the machines that may someday care for us and about us.


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The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial intelligence raises very real concerns. Sexual activity is central to our very existence; it shapes how we think, how we act and how we live. With advances in technology come machines that may one day think independently. What will happen to us when we form close relationships with these intelligent systems? Chapter by chapter, this book will build on the science and the philosophy surrounding our most intimate relationship with technology. The scene is set with the history of the artificial sexual companion, then goes on to explore the "modern" robot and the twentieth century sci-fi that promised us our own robot slaves. An explanation of artificial intelligence and the urge to create sentient machines delves into our own psychology: how does desire affect our own behavior, and can we become attached to an inanimate object? Can robots make society a better place? And what can go wrong? Sex robots are here, and here to stay--and more are coming. This book explores how the emerging and future development of sexual companion robots might affect us, and our society. It explores the social changes arising from emerging technologies, and our relationships with the machines that may someday care for us and about us.

30 review for Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    Robots. Yes. How do I love robots? Let’s count the ways. Well, for the sake of brevity, maybe not, but let’s just say I really, really love robots…although not in the way some of the denizens of this book do. So while I’d love a robot best friend, a robot romantic and/or sexual partner isn’t something that spins my dreams around. In fact once I watched a program about men (and it’s nearly always men) who were trying to find (ok, buy) their perfect robotic mate and they were exactly the sad sack Robots. Yes. How do I love robots? Let’s count the ways. Well, for the sake of brevity, maybe not, but let’s just say I really, really love robots…although not in the way some of the denizens of this book do. So while I’d love a robot best friend, a robot romantic and/or sexual partner isn’t something that spins my dreams around. In fact once I watched a program about men (and it’s nearly always men) who were trying to find (ok, buy) their perfect robotic mate and they were exactly the sad sack can’t make it with a real woman stereotypes you’d think they’d be. But in whatever way you want to utilize them, let’s face it, robots are the future. They are already all around us (Hi, Alexa) and are getting smarter every day, but they still haven’t nearly reached that level of autonomy and sentience that makes us think of singularity event, terminators and apocalypses. Frankly…I say bring it on. And not just because I’ve just listened to Robots of Gotham on audio, the book where robots did take over. But seriously in this day and age it might be an improvement. The thought of being governed by an artificial intelligence seems infinitely preferable to the inverse of that. But anyway…this book is all about robots and sex, often together, sometimes separately. It gives a comprehensive historical overview of how technology got to where it is now, ponders what’s next, considers sexuality as it evolved over time to be a much more complex multilayered thing than past models, but mainly it contemplates the ethics of robot/person involvements. After all, there are situations and jobs you’d be glad to turn over to robots right now, very practical things like caretaking, assembly, etc. But however lonely the world gets, however much time is spent playing games, interacting via social media or in virtual reality…or not interacting at all and shutting the world out Japanese style…there’s still a significant taboo about having a robot mate. Possibly because technology is as of yet far from perfect, still talking a semiautonomous preprogrammed cranium upon a blow up doll body more often than not. Possibly because such a union would usher in a brave new world not everyone’s quite ready to contemplate yet. For me robots…whether it’s to eradicate loneliness, provide essential assistance or even just to hang out…bring it on. Can’t be nearly as disappointing as the flesh bags (or whatever derogatory moniker the robots use to discuss us) and probably definitely smarter than most. But it was still very interesting to read about all the psychological, ethical and social implications of such an evolution. And the book was very entertaining, the author’s funny, erudite, very feminist, opinionated and clever…so that should give you an idea of what sort of perspective you’re getting here. Very enjoyable read, not so much educating (knew a lot of it already and also really wish there were photos) as enlightening and tons of food for thought. Science, sex and robots…how can you not love that combination. I read it in less than a day, great read. And now back to dreaming of technology finally matching up to my imagination. Thanks Netgalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Artur Coelho

    Bem, se pegarem neste livro em busca de visões mecânicas libidinosas, desenganem-se. Este livro leva o tema da intersecção entre robots e sexualidade muito a sério. Começa por desmontar a ideia de robots com fins sexuais. Fala-se nisso, mas não se faz, não porque não haja vontade, mas porque a tecnologia ainda não evoluiu o suficiente. O que se faz são bonecas (e também bonecos, não são só homens a mexer nisto) com elevado nível de realismo, alguns mecanismos e nalguns casos, implementações de I Bem, se pegarem neste livro em busca de visões mecânicas libidinosas, desenganem-se. Este livro leva o tema da intersecção entre robots e sexualidade muito a sério. Começa por desmontar a ideia de robots com fins sexuais. Fala-se nisso, mas não se faz, não porque não haja vontade, mas porque a tecnologia ainda não evoluiu o suficiente. O que se faz são bonecas (e também bonecos, não são só homens a mexer nisto) com elevado nível de realismo, alguns mecanismos e nalguns casos, implementações de IA para dar um simulacro de personalidade. Mas, mesmo aqui, o que realmente se produz fica muito aquém do imaginado, ou vendido pelos departamentos de marketing das empresas que manufaturam sex dolls. A autora vai bem ao fundo no tema (oops, não resisto a duplos sentido). Se a tecnologia é a porta de entrada, o que realmente lhe interessa são os porquês, as razões que nos levam conceber a ideia de relações com máquinas. E aí, as coisas tornam-se interessantes. À partida, robots sexuais podem parecer a epítome das fantasias masculinas: um corpo ideal de voluptuosas formas femininas, que se liga quando se quer e se desliga quando a necessidade biológica fica satisfeita. Na verdade, as razões são muito mais complexas do que a extrapolação de estereótipos. Não que estes estejam ausentes deste campo, é impossível não lhes fugir, nem que seja pelos personagens coloridos que abundam nesta área e que a autora retrata com vários níveis de ironia. Incapacidade de formar relações, geriatria, ultrapassar questões psicológicas profundas, substitutos sexuais para pessoas com deficiência, são alguns dos campos em que a sexualização das máquinas nos pode ser útil. Soa arrepiante, fica sempre no ar a ideia que iremos preferir a máquina ao ser humano, mas a investigação que a autora cita mostra o oposto. Haverá sempre uma minoria que vê na máquina sexualizada o seu ideal erótico, mas para outros, será um apoio à personalidade. E é de notar que nisto de taras e manias, a aplicação da regra 34 antecede em muito a internet. A mitologia grega já nos deu os primeiros indícios do fascínio erótico com formas inanimadas. Curiosamente, o mito prende-se com uma mulher que, desgostosa com a perda do seu amado, dá usos a uma estátua dele. Dildos e outros auxiliares eróticos têm um longo historial, a sua ligação digital é apenas a tendência mais recente. Fundamentalmente, este é um livro sóbrio, que foge aos estereótipos. Analisa um tema polémico misturando relato jornalístico e análise académica.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tuna

    Turned On is an easy to read book that presents philosophical, ethical, technical, and historical ideas in an easy to understand format. The writers voice is also pleasing and really made the journey through her field of research as interesting as the title suggested. Content covered included both speculative ideas on what the future of sex robots, including both humanoid looking ones, but also future sex tech with robotic like features, could be. It also provided societal considerations on the a Turned On is an easy to read book that presents philosophical, ethical, technical, and historical ideas in an easy to understand format. The writers voice is also pleasing and really made the journey through her field of research as interesting as the title suggested. Content covered included both speculative ideas on what the future of sex robots, including both humanoid looking ones, but also future sex tech with robotic like features, could be. It also provided societal considerations on the acceptance and perhaps regulation of such devices. This was the most compelling aspect as It does make one think about why one would or would not be interested in sex robots but are in other aspects of sex. For example, harm to the robot, would the robot somehow lead to harmful sexual practices, and ultimately would it lead to the end of humanity as we know it, due to the supposed belief that people would form more intimate connections with them and not with each other. One final compelling aspect was the walk through the gallery view of the presentation of robots in media including the objectification of the robots. It was a compelling aspect and with some speculation and historical context, it was interesting to see how male gaze has led to the design of some of the robots, and some of the views expressed about them. Weaknesses of the book were simply due to a lack of information in the field. There seemed to be limited studies performed on the perceptions of sex robots and on answering several of the more thought provoking societal thought questions pursued. While there were views presented about female robots a lot, it seemed there was limited coverage of perhaps male robots. Queer issues were mentioned, but also fell victim to limited coverage in same sex perceptions of the robots. Overall an interesting book covering content from a niche field that could perhaps become chillingly relevant in the coming years.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Franco

    Just like there’s a site for everything on the web, there’s a doctoral dissertation for everything in the libraries of academia, or at least in the sometimes-fertile imagination of grad students. Here’s the proof, a book about sex robots, though the author would kill me if she saw me writing it so simply. Right away in the intro there’s humor and self-awareness, which is a good harbinger. Actually, the title starts that with a pretty good pun. From there it delves into the ancient history of dild Just like there’s a site for everything on the web, there’s a doctoral dissertation for everything in the libraries of academia, or at least in the sometimes-fertile imagination of grad students. Here’s the proof, a book about sex robots, though the author would kill me if she saw me writing it so simply. Right away in the intro there’s humor and self-awareness, which is a good harbinger. Actually, the title starts that with a pretty good pun. From there it delves into the ancient history of dildos and vibrators. Not sure what this has to do with the topic, but it’s fun, at least for a while. As much as I’m enjoying the writing, I’m a third of the way through and the author seems to have forgotten what the book is supposed to be about in her fervor to provide historical perspective. Getting through this becomes so tough I long for the humorous interludes, my fave being her running a conference amidst accusations of “bouncing.” Every once in a while she’ll sneak in a line like “I watch sex doll porn so you won’t have to,” and it reminds me why I keep reading till the end. Despite the humor and conversational style, it really is more like a scientific report than anything else. I learned a lot of things, but not so many on the topic. But the important takeaway is that, even if it felt long at times, I enjoyed reading it. 3.5 pushed up to 4/5

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Hardcover) by Kate Devlin I heard the au on a BBC world service program on Sat Oct 27 2018 on sex robots. KD was part of a three way conversation which soon turned to comparing the idea of sex robot partners to sex toys and to porn, at which point both women got defensive and started to use the same memes that sex negative feminists use to claim there is something wrong with male sexuality. In my opinion that is mostly envy of male sexual autonomy. If they reall Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Hardcover) by Kate Devlin I heard the au on a BBC world service program on Sat Oct 27 2018 on sex robots. KD was part of a three way conversation which soon turned to comparing the idea of sex robot partners to sex toys and to porn, at which point both women got defensive and started to use the same memes that sex negative feminists use to claim there is something wrong with male sexuality. In my opinion that is mostly envy of male sexual autonomy. If they really want to do some actual thinking about the subject they should look up the history of artistic representation of odalisques. This will either convince them that men have been defective for at least the last 500 years (really back to Julius Caesar but who's counting) or give them a somewhat new direction. It remains to be seen if this discussion is in the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Taro

    This book was a disappointment due to the fact that the primarily concerns of the author appear to be of (feminist) issues and impacts of new sex technologies of today and very near future, and not their creative destructive nature in the foreseeable future, the intention that the author reveals at the very end of the book. While I found interesting the archaeology of sex toys in the early parts of the book, there actually are only minimal discussions of the technological aspect of sex robots th This book was a disappointment due to the fact that the primarily concerns of the author appear to be of (feminist) issues and impacts of new sex technologies of today and very near future, and not their creative destructive nature in the foreseeable future, the intention that the author reveals at the very end of the book. While I found interesting the archaeology of sex toys in the early parts of the book, there actually are only minimal discussions of the technological aspect of sex robots themselves. Realistic sex robots (to which, in my eyes, none of the kinds that currently exist and are mentioned in the book belong... yet) promise to be extremely disruptive due to its implication not just on the aspect of sexual expression and pleasure but also its impact on social evolution, for which sex/gender is a very essential driver. I think the book comes well short of offering any new insights on topics like that. For example, rather than digging adequately deeper, the author tends to simply dismiss heteronormative narratives, e.g., traditional marriage. That might please readers who delight in sharing now widely recognized feminist/gender-fluid viewpoints, but it is hardly satisfying to those who seek more nuanced understandings of the situations. The book reads as if the author's feminism occasionally acts as a shackle rather than a lens through which more imaginative insights for the future emerge. Perhaps all that was meant to be, but from the title of of the book I was expecting more when I pre-ordered the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jay Gabler

    Although Devlin muses on the philosophical implications of a far-distant future where artificial intelligence, embodied in sex robots among other appliances, will have advanced to functional sentience, she’s more concerned in the here and now. You can’t buy a fembot, but you can buy a vibrator that connects to your smartphone and features a camera at the end (“yes,” clarifies Devlin, “that end”). What if it was hacked? No, really. I reviewed Turned On for The Tangential.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    Turned On: Science, Sex, and Robots by Kate Devlin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-October. Devlin speaks of intimacy and sensuality in a technologically advanced world in a daring, cheeky, yet chirpy tone, perhaps like a person who spends a lot of time at cons. It refers back to Haile Liebermann’s Buzz, which I enjoyed quite a lot; yet, on their own, darts around time and topics far too quickly, so it’s more like a speedy catch-all that touches on numerous topics, rather than a true Turned On: Science, Sex, and Robots by Kate Devlin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-October. Devlin speaks of intimacy and sensuality in a technologically advanced world in a daring, cheeky, yet chirpy tone, perhaps like a person who spends a lot of time at cons. It refers back to Haile Liebermann’s Buzz, which I enjoyed quite a lot; yet, on their own, darts around time and topics far too quickly, so it’s more like a speedy catch-all that touches on numerous topics, rather than a true resource.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maju Mathias

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    This was a very interesting, intriguing, entertaining and easy to read book. Kate Devlin does an amazing job by engaging you from the very beginning and taking you on a extremely entertaining journey that has you turning pages and not wanting to stop. I absolutely loved the combination of history, philosophy, science, ethics, technology and sex. I was surprised as to how easy it all flowed and how it is written for all audiences with all different backgrounds. Adult audience. I think the best thi This was a very interesting, intriguing, entertaining and easy to read book. Kate Devlin does an amazing job by engaging you from the very beginning and taking you on a extremely entertaining journey that has you turning pages and not wanting to stop. I absolutely loved the combination of history, philosophy, science, ethics, technology and sex. I was surprised as to how easy it all flowed and how it is written for all audiences with all different backgrounds. Adult audience. I think the best thing though, was how much I learned and how thought-provoking many of the passages were. This is a book I will definitely recommend to everyone I know. Can't wait to read more form this author in the future. I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan Davis

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emmy Gregory

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter Farinelli

  15. 4 out of 5

    James Marcus Boman

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Yoder

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jadyn

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ernesto

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Gusev

  20. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

  21. 4 out of 5

    Thefdz

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Snow

  23. 4 out of 5

    Allison Hollett

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angie Higgins

  25. 4 out of 5

    Davidme

  26. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vish Wam

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bloomsbury Publishing

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve Emmett

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Eyre

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