Love and Sex with RobotsPress release 8 October 2007
A Ph.D. thesis submitted to the Universiteit Maastricht contains some controversial forecasts about the future of human-robot relationships. The thesis is entitled “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners” and its author is David Levy, an International Master at chess from London. Levy’s thesis argues that trends in robotics and other areas of artificial intelligence will, within a few decades, result in robots that are so humanlike in their appearance and functionality, in their personality, and in their expression of emotions, that many people will be falling in love with them, having sex with them, and even marrying them.
Levy’s Ph.D. research has encompassed the fields of psychology, sexology, sociology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and gender studies. His forecasts are based on his analysis of certain trends and on what he sees as the inevitability of how these trends will continue in the future. One of these trends follows the objects of human affection – at first this was only for other humans, then it expanded to include pet animals, then virtual pets such as the TAMAGOTCHI and Sony’s robotic dog AIBO, and in the future, according to Levy’s thesis, for robots. Another trend examined in the thesis follows our attitudes to various sexual practices, as these attitudes have become steadily more liberal. The thesis also examines the principal reasons, identified by research psychologists, why we fall in love and why we have sex. Most of these reasons are shown in the thesis to be equally applicable to the human-robot relationships of the future as they are for human-human relationships today.
The thesis defence in Maastricht will take place on October 11th at 2:00 PM in the Aula of the Universiteit Maastricht. The defence will be preceeded by a press conference, from 11.00 AM until 1.30 PM. David Levy’s thesis supervisors are Professor Maaike Meijer, of the Department of Gender Studies, and Professor Jaap van den Herik, of the Department of Computer Science.