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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The 2nd Machine Age: Robots Set To Make up 30% Of Workforce by 2025

It’s one of those heady predictions that sounds shocking, yet really plausible; the same way that the predictions of how climate change is going to completely and irrevocably mess us up within a couple of decades is sadly plausible. We all know it’s coming—robots and computers are going to take up a significant number of the jobs now held by human beings. Information technology research/advisory firm Gartner forecasts that in ten years, 30% of our human workforce will be replaced by “smart robots”:

Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025…New digital businesses require less labor; machines will make sense of data faster than humans can.

This will create a literal “Second Machine Age” akin to that of the Industrial Revolution—the difference being in this new machine age, jobs for humans are projected to decrease rather than increase.

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While the PBS article I’ve linked to relates this most to jobs involving cognitive tasks, of course this job displacement will impact what’s left of the “blue collar”/service jobs as well. Just for the airlines industry alone: couldn’t a robot take over the job of baggage handler and skycap, TSA worker and even steward/ess (think about it: you could send a robot along on a track up and down the airplane aisle to deliver drinks and blankets and whatnot; there would be one human supervisor to manage everything).

At some point, artificial intelligence and robotics will be able to do a huge amount of the tasks currently performed by humans. So what jobs will these humans get instead? Honestly? I think they’re going to send more and more desperate humans to expeditions to Mars and the moon as “pioneers.” Certainly, robots will be able to perform the necessary off-world tasks and whatnot better than humans…but there will still be a need to have colonies of people on the planets themselves.

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So what I think will happen within 20 years is that there will be a movement to ship a lot of these unemployed people into space…people fleeing poverty, oppression, jail sentences, and etc. will take a chance (and in the beginning of Mars colonization, this most certainly will be a one-way trip) off-world.

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So what you will have, of course, is a type of “replay” of the colonization that happened on Earth in the last 500 years or so. Bonus if there are actually other lifeforms on the planets already which we can displace or “utilize.”

Again…the idea that robots and AI would replace human jobs to the point that there will be a massive unemployment crisis seems obvious. If you had a global economic system that gave human lives the same weight as profit, this upcoming crisis could possibly be averted…even maybe turned-around as a new golden age with abundance for all. But instead, you’ll inevitably have companies chucking out human workers for more cost-effective (read: not in need of health insurance) artificial ones, with no bigger game-plan as to what will happen to the economy when all those people are out-of-work.

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Which is where the mass-exodus of humanity to an uncertain future will come in. As it always has.

And I see it already, just in the microcosm, in the little passive-aggressive “war” I have with my local bank. After many years of mindlessly using the ATM for most of my banking needs, I opted to use a teller in-person. I decided this, in part, because I just didn’t feel “connected” to my money…to the ebb and flow of what I was putting in and taking out. Books on getting your financial shit together will recommend you do exactly this. But after about 6 months of using my bank in this fashion, I started to see “push-back.” There would actually be a bank worker paid to stand by the line, see if you had a task that could be done with an ATM, and strongly advise you to do so. Another time, the teller asked if I wanted a receipt, I said yes, and she made a point of circling the ATM information on the receipt in front of me.

So I get it—don’t use the tellers to make deposits or withdrawals.

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And what is going to happen to the jobs for these bank workers, once nobody uses them anymore for deposits, withdrawals, and so on? Let’s say at least one job at each bank will be made redundant via this campaign to move customers to the ATMs…we’re talking megabanks with thousands of branches across the United States. How many people with the skill-set of “bank teller” are out of a job? And what new skill-sets will they learn instead that will not be replaced by computers/smart robots?

In closing, think about the job you have now, and your skill-set. How much of your duties could theoretically be done by a robot or computer algorithm? I know, I know…that sounds insulting. And I know: only a human touch could possibly render your job something truly effective and meaningful.

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this poor robot had to sleep with Jimmy Fallon

But let’s say a company feels they can get away with having a computer/robot do your job. Can you picture that? If you can, try to visualize what new skill-set you could learn to make up for your lost job opportunity. Now, can a computer/robot replicate that skill-set?

And that’s kind of how you have to look at things moving forward, in the big picture. What human occupations will still be valued/needed during the 2nd Machine Age?

(Do you know they can program a computer to generate basic news articles for websites? I’m pretty sure there is only a small jump from that to generating Buzzfeed-type listicles and whatnot.)

So I know this all may sound a little ridiculous from our current vantage point in the timestream, but it’s something to keep in mind.