Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ah, Those Realistic, Unreal Partners

Recently, I noticed a story about a Japanese man who claimed to have fallen in love with his sex doll.  Maybe that’s not too surprising.  I mean, men have been falling in love with lots of nonhuman things for years – our jobs, our cars, the fictional characters in our books.  (Not me personally, mind you.  I’m only mildly infatuated with Diane Stapleton and Nicole Veles, but some authors.)

Anyway, I was cruising through the story online (http://bit.ly/2sji62Q) until I hit a quote from Hideo Tsuchiya, the managing director of doll maker Orient Industry, “More men are buying them because they feel they can actually communicate with the dolls.” 

Communicate?  These are inanimate globs of silicone?  Lifelike?  Yeah, we’ve come a long way from this picture, but still….

What, I wondered, is going to happen when these dolls start talking back?  And actually, that day is here already, isn’t it?  Take RealDoll's “Harmony,” an artificially intelligent sexbot that can hold conversations.  She (it) even remembers and has a customizable personality.

And the quality of the conversation, you might ask?  Well, we’re far beyond the early days of text-to-speech, when you could type a phrase into your computer and get a good laugh as it mispronounced the words in its robotic voice.  If you want a demo and have any Amazon Alexa-powered device, just say “Alexa, let’s chat.”  You’ll get the university finalists in the inaugural $2.5 million Alexa Prize to advance conversational AI.

How is this all going to change life and lust as we know it?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I’ll go have a chat with Diane or Nicole, see what they have to say.

Happy Writing,
BmP
Image by Rico Shen [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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