ur doin it wrong: Robot Edition

There’s a lot wrong with this story in Sunday’s edition of the Baltimore Sun about sex robots. I mean other than the fact that it’s inexplicably filed under the “Michael Jackson” subcategory in the Entertainment section, or that one of the entries in the topic list for the story is “children”.

No, the real WTF starts with the very first sentence:

A New Jersey company says it has developed “the world’s first sex robot,” a life-size rubber doll that’s designed to engage the owner with conversation rather than lifelike movement.

I don’t think the developer understands the concept of a “sex robot”.

It has touch sensors at strategic locations and can sense when it’s being moved. But it can’t move on its own, not even to turn its head or move its lips. The sound comes out of an internal loudspeaker.

Correction: I don’t think the developer understands the concept of a “robot”. It can’t even move? I know Wikipedia’s discussion of the defining characteristics of a robot doesn’t require the ability to move, but that just demonstrates how Wikipedia makes no guarantee of validity. Touch sensors and speakers in a squick-inducing chassis do not a robot make. This just sounds like a creepy computer peripheral. Surely there must be more to it than–

[...] there’s a laptop connected to cables coming out of its back.

Or you could just not bother trying to hide it. That works too, I guess.

“Sex only goes so far — then you want to be able to talk to the person,” Hines said.

So that’s the order, then. I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.

A Japanese company, Honey Dolls, makes life-size sex dolls that can play recorded sounds, but Roxxxy’s sensors and speech capabilities appear to be more sophisticated.

I never had any idea the U.S. was beating Japan in both robotics and perversion.

CAUTION: Do not imbibe a beverage while reading the following excerpt, unless you feel like doing a spit take on your keyboard.

An engineer, Hines said he was inspired to create the robot after a friend died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Didn’t see that one coming, did you? I love how the article’s author throws in the appositive to justify the thought process involved. “Why would 9/11 inspire him to make a sex robot?” “He’s an engineer.” “Oh, that makes sense.”

That got him thinking about preserving his friend’s personality, to give his children a chance to interact with him as they’re growing up. Looking around for commercial applications for artificial personalities, he initially thought he might create a home health care aide for the elderly.

“But there was tremendous regulatory and bureaucratic paperwork to get through. We were stuck,” Hines said. “So I looked at other markets.”

In other words, 9/11 + bureaucracy = sex robots.

Come to think of it, however, we should make an effort to distribute this article wherever Al Qaeda is operating. Once they understand that one of the effects of terror attacks against the U.S. is increased innovation in sex robots, they’re bound to give up. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!