Robopriest

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Sure, why not?

Asking whether you want to be blessed by a male or female voice, this robot “priest” in the historic town of Wittenberg (where Martin Luther’s famous Ninety-five Theses was published) is called “BlessU-2” and was developed by the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau. It will even print out a handy blessing for you to keep in your pocket or perhaps on your fridge.

Not surprisingly, BlessU-2 was sort of conceived by the church to attract more believers (spectators?) to the Faith. As church spokesman Sebastian von Gehren commented: “It is an experiment that is supposed to inspire discussion.”

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As The World’s First Sex Doll Brothel Opens, Is A Robot Version Far Behind?

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I throw around the term “inevitable” a lot—truly, it is one of my favorite words. But “inevitable” feels completely applicable in this case, of the world’s first “sex doll” brothel in Barcelona, Spain.

I was very tempted to refer to Lumi (link NSFW),”The First Sex Dolls Agency,” as a “robot brothel”…but it is unclear if these highly realistic sex dolls actually have automated (as some dolls under development are). However, it should be obvious that based on current advances in AI (not to mention, the aforementioned sex doll technology), the day of a Westworld-type scenario is not far away.

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Minimum Wage In The Era Of The Robots

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It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robot than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.
—Ed Rensi, former McDonalds CEO

A lot of activism happening on the minimum wage front recently. In Detroit, workers protested outside a McDonalds for a $15-an-hour minimum wage (the current in Michigan is $8.50); 40 people were arrested. And across the country, Uber drivers also pushed for a $15 minimum, under the “Day Of Disruption” protest banner.

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We Are Not Prepared For The Job Market Of The Future

I occasionally post links to articles like this one, from ReCode, to my Facebook. In it, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner is quoted as saying:

“Unfortunately, there is going to be increasing displacement of workers. The World Economic Forum has projected that by 2020, as many as five million net jobs will be replaced as the result of new technologies, artificial intelligence, robots, etc. I think there is expected to be a total of seven million jobs that are expected to be displaced, and two million “adds” as the result of new technologies.”

It makes you wonder what we will even be using LinkedIn for by that point. (maybe more of those enjoyable political discussions that have been choking my feed on the site)

Just for context, Weiner’s comments were given during a discussion about how certain disenfranchised American workers voted Donald Trump into office.

Of course, Trump has promised these workers that he will give them their jobs back. He would only really be able to do that in any long-term way, however, by preventing these companies and corporations from automating more jobs.

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your competition

I don’t think that is going to happen, because the companies/corporations stand to make way too much $$$. Nor do I think the other political side in this debate had any real plan laid out to deal with this issue either.

In fact—as I write this (this just-past weekend), the biggest news story is that the Broadway play Hamilton dissed Mike Pence, and then DT started a Twitter war in response.

Another link I posted recently on FB is this one about how 60% of Australian school children are not being prepared for the types of jobs that will be available when they grow up. The story is about Australia, but could have easily described the situation in the United States.

Going back to the Jeff Weiner interview, he also commented that what we once thought was only “science-fiction,” in terms of the job market, is now a reality and is at our front door.

2020. Less than four years away.

What’s the plan?

And are we being distracted, to an extent, from really coming to grips with the situation we are shortly to find ourselves in?

 

Are We Accidentally Training Robots To Be Our Not-So-Benevolent Overlords?

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
— from Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics

Let’s cut to the chase here: are we training computers and robots to essentially enslave us in, I dunnow, maybe 20, 50, 5 years or so?

Hahahaha, I’m just messing with you—I don’t really believe that. 🙂

That said, I found this article from Mysterious Universe—“Robots Hitting Humans Is Not A Good Sign”—very interesting. It reports on international efforts by researchers to encourage robots to beat the living tar out of humans.

For example, there is the “arm-punching robot” of Germany. Spearheaded by the Robotic Systems Business Unit at the Fraunhofer IFF Institute, this pendulum-arm robot was designed to find out how hard a human could be punched by said machine until they die.

Obviously, volunteers are used in the experiments, nobody has been punched to death by a Maximum Overdrive-level homicidal robot, and there is actual a practical application to the work—the results can be used to help program robots in factories and whatnot so they don’t accidentally  pummel to death their fellow skinbag workers.

Then there is the Swedish “face-slapping robot.” Ostensibly to be eventually used in the world’s most realistic Three Stooges android, this is an alarm clock with an actual robot hand built-in to it to slap you the hell awake.

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Are we (you know: you, me, Gummo down the street, and the most brilliant minds in robotics) purposely encouraging these machines to violate science-fiction novelist Isaac Asimov’s First Law Of Robotics: “A robot may not injure a human being …”?

Or do humans have no choice in the matter but to try to be proactive about the whole robot-hurting-humans thing by studying how much deadly force they can exert? I mean, there was that robot who killed a factory worker last year in Germany (the story broken on Twitter by the prophetically-named Sarah O’Connor).

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And…well…if and when robots and computers ever do achieve a sort of sentience and independence, isn’t kind of, for lack of a better term, “human-ist” of us to demand they follow Asimov’s laws? Even if asking them not to kill or maim humans is justified, what about the part regarding not letting a human come to harm? I mean, what if the robot in question just doesn’t want to get involved?

Furthermore, look at Law #3, about robots having to obey humans. This is basically compelling them to slave away for the skinbags. Certainly, a self-aware robot might have a problem with this?

Computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil stated in TIME that it would be a moral imperative to give a “conscious” robot rights:

If an AI can convince us that it is at human levels in its responses, and if we are convinced that it is experiencing the subjective states that it claims, then we will accept that it is capable of experiencing suffering and joy. At that point AIs will demand rights, and because of our ability to empathize, we will be inclined to grant them.

In which case…the 3 Laws Of Robotics (which, you know, is a fictional thing but people always cite them in these types of discussions) might need to be revised.

But we’ll be sure to keep the “harm no humans” thing in there.

A Conversation With Erica: The Fetishization Of The Robot

As the writer for Bloomberg News indicates, there is something creepy about this video featuring an “interview” with highly lifelike robot Erica…but part of it is because of the nature of the interview itself.

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actual screenshot from the news video

Two middle-aged men sitting at a table discuss the extremely young-looking female robot sitting between them. Designed to be a “secretary,” Erica responds to commands and smiles demurely as she is being talked about.

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uh…

The interviewer strokes Erica’s cheek as he remarks on how lifelike she is. Close-up of the air rustling through her abundant inorganic hair, then a shot under the table of her dainty feet (toes pointed modestly inward). The camera lingers on the subtly moist pink lip gloss carefully painted on her silicone lips.

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The inventor apparently offers Erica to the interviewer to test out exactly how lifelike she really is.

OK, it’s only a kiss being offered. But still. This robotics coverage is slowly turning into some Westworld-level shit right here.

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…and the illusion has now been completely destroyed.

Futureworld: Carnal Robots And Neuron-Blowing Sex

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Will the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robotic technology save humanity’s sex lives? “Sex and relationship expert” Laura Berman sure thinks so, singing the praises of post-human coitus in the Wall Street Journal article, “The Future Of Sex: It Gets Better.”

Berman suggests that sex robots and neuro-stimulation might solve many of the sexual problems plaguing our modern society—such as apparently meeting and interacting with other human beings, physically touching people, and dealing with less-than-physically-perfect potential partners:

You will be able to design your perfect mate, complete with the right voice and the artificial intelligence to whisper those sweet nothings at exactly the right time. Virtual romantic partners like Samantha in the movie “Her” will be a reality. In fact, a new app called Invisible Boyfriend is already out, sending you loving texts like a real boyfriend might.

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