Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Learning to Love Robots

Yesterday Simon Ings had an article published in The Guardian that claimed, amongst other things, that"the human tendency to anthropomorphise will allow automatons to become part of society". I bring this to your attention because he chose to open his piece with the following:-

"London, 1977: the international grandmaster Michael Stean is losing to Chess 4.6, a computer programme developed at Northwestern University, Illinois. Stean is steamed: he is losing. Chess 4.6 is, he says, 'an iron monster'."

I've always thought Stean had called his computer nemesis a 'bloody iron monster'. I may be wrong - when I googled the phrase all that came up was the page that contained my own comment to an S&BCC Blog post from July last year - but it wouldn't be unlike the good old Grauniad to edit out a very minor swear word (is it even that anymore?) after publishing a See You Next Tuesday * on the same page less than two weeks previously.

Anyhoo, towards the end of the column Ing mentions a book, Love and Sex with Robots, written by "chess international master" David Levy.

"Now in his mid-60s, Levy is bringing aritificial life to sex. 'Humans long for affection and tend to be affectionate to those who offer it', he says, and predicts that prostitution has only another 20 years to run before robots take over. Robots with credibly human bodies are already here. Add minds clever enough to handle a little language, and how could we possibly avoid loving them?"

One can't help but feel prolonged exposure to Raymond Dennis Keene has rather warped Levy's view of the human form but still it's nice to know he's found something useful to do with his life after the rather unpleasant end to their business relationship.

Should you be in the mood to rush out and buy the book, I'm afraid you'll have to calm your self for a while. The paperback version won't be published until April but you can always pre-order it.

Patience dear friends, patience.

* Yes, I am aware of the contradiction in employing a euphemism for "cunt" immediately after poking fun at a newspaper for cutting "bloody". It's irony don't you know?

1 comment:

Mike said...

The fembots are already here! When I upgraded from Fritz5.32 to Fritz10 I was rather alarmed by the picture of the female robot that appears on the splash screen. What is that about? Who is she supposed to be?

Mike G.