Drugs and alcohol. Video games, soon, full immersive. Streaming videos. Porn. One demand deliver of everything. Sexbots, coming soon. More remote work.
Literally someone could work, eat, and never leave their house if they wanted to.
It seems like technology is already making people more isolated. I really worry about this.
Technology is an alternative solution to many of the same problems that we used to have to use community to solve.
Finding ways to build community when we aren't forced to group together for survival is one of the big challenges of modern life.
On the other hand, technology also provides us with reasons to connect (shared digital activities), it breaks down the barriers of connection (time and space, and increasingly language), it reduces the cost of connection, allows us to share other peoples lives in a way that was previously impossible.
Most of what most people do on the internet is build community, real community, so even while we're contemplating the dangers, let's not get too pessimistic.
The next 50-100 years when AI really takes off is going to be an interesting time.
I mean nowadays someone can spend the whole day on internet without talking to anyone. Is it sad? Well, consider that during this day he can have worked on a state-of-the-art free and open source software, discussed about it on IRC with developers all around the world, played chess online with a Grandmaster, followed free physics lessons on Coursera, asked a question to a famous personality on a reddit AMA, and so on.
What would have he done without technology? I don't know, but if he's the typical lower class worker, his day would typically have ended up drinking a few beers in a pub.
That's less isolating that a lot of things. Old school monks and hermits and lone philosophers and scientists were probably more isolated then than a lot of gamers and folk on the internet are now.
But it's a pretty good setup for it. Voice chat with 4 people who are incentivized to cooperate; can kick people as needed. The social experience in most games is pretty bad.
Folks in new cities have instant communication with loved ones, and some of us meet folks and fall in love. The more realistic this stuff is, the less lonely some of that stuff might feel.
Sexbots can easily mean that a well-matched but sexually incompatable couple could have a stable relationship, for example, each with their own respective sexbots. Or a happy couple could get a pair to enhance their own relationship or to explore things their partner isn't as comfortable with. My spouse and I (who met on the internet and used to live on different continents) actually plan on getting 2 (at the same time to avoid akwardness) when they become affordable.
It might be that along with learning normal stuff, we learn different sorts of things in school to help take care of our psychological selves so we don't fall in a trap, but I doubt any of that will be needed. It won't really feel like we are isolated in the sense of solitary confinement, and in a generation or two it'll all seem a pretty natural way of life.
"We haven't finished inventing it yet, but when we do it'll be awesome."
Seems about right.
Of course a meal made by a wife tastes best, a husband who carries your bags most romantic, a true lover- of course, but Chinese have to be realistic due to our circumstance. So are very, very interested in automating some forms of manual labor. This technology is spoken of all the time. We have few other options if we want to keep a stable society. Most of those options are not very good for women.
I suspect that the phone sex lines that exist are more masterbation than adultery - but then phone sex with ones girlfriend is what?
Human sexuality - complicated innit. Won't get simpler with robots in the way.
There's a word for that, and it's "teledildonics". The term was invented by none other than Ted Nelson.
Interestingly, I've been a researcher in the field of human-robot interaction for around five years now and sex robots are for the most part unexplored within HRI academic research.
On the flip side, you think the marriage rates are low now? Just you wait...
Is this a bad thing? If there are people who would prefer a sex-bot partner over getting married, how good would you expect their counterfactual marriages to be? Would it be better if someone took the sex-bot option away and they got married instead?
And I don't think under-population is the problem we're facing...
“What if it’s your first time – your first sexual
experience? What are you going to think of the opposite
sex then? What would they think a woman or a man
To pick a random example, lets say that someone's first experience of playing football is from a video game. They may end up with a "warped perspective" of what the game is like to play in reality. But is that a damaging and harmful thing? I don't think so. And I don't see why sex should be treated much differently than any other activity.
Actual serious consequences is a big part of what drives people to view sex as very serious business. Most people are happy to see it as just another form of play time if you can nix the threat of death, maiming and babies with a fairly high degree of confidence.
So we have both psychological and physiological causes of not being able to maintain a good "IRL" sexual performance due to a history of excessive and, perhaps at least as important, different stimuli. BUT... The brain can usually easily be retrained if you abstain from those practices. It may take a month or even two, but following this, restore regular dopamine levels when aroused IRL, restore sensitivity, and so on. I see no reason sexbots will be any different.
So I think sexbots will just be a new means that may cause old problems. But also as usual, the more you do things in moderation, the less of a problem they'll probably be. Sure, the old problem with addiction may rear its head again especially among people prone to getting addicted of sex, gambling, alcohol, etc, but I think this is as usual not the problem of a product, but of a personality. The best solution to that is not to withdraw products, but to learn about your addictive personality and take note when you're developing dangerous patterns or perhaps best of all just avoid risking it altogether by steering clear of risky products.
The same thing that happens when young men discover that young women aren't as compliant with their sexual desires as is their hand and or sock, or if you are really advanced a microwaved melon.
Also I think it's a bit silly to focus on men only, especially considering that the sex toy industry pretty much exclusively was focused on women.
Sex toys for men only started to really come out less than a decade ago (e.g. Flesh light), vibrators have been around since the 1930's, and dildo's have been around since we learned how to carve bone.
Potential built-in population limiter?
Also, once perfect sex bots become The Norm, there will be people who fetishize actual sweat, imperfections, etc. Real Sex will become some new way to Get Your Freak On.
Human sexuality is surprisingly malleable and adaptable. Otherwise we wouldn't have the problem you are currently decrying.
It is potentially harmful to the possibility of having a real and satisfactory relationship to another living, breathing human being. But I think that actual relationships are so often seriously problematic that the practice of defaulting to them is largely dependent upon there being no other viable options. Historically, women being financially dependent upon men is a big part of why women put up with men at all. As women move into the work force and can support themselves, this raises the bar on what they expect from a man in a relationship. Having sex bot options is better than having no options.
Please note I say this as someone who really likes men, a lot more than many women seem to. But I have been alone for over 11 years in part because I am determined to never again be financially dependent upon a man. I view it as a deal with the devil. It made sense for purposes of raising kids, but it did terrible things to my life and to my relationship to my husband and I am unwilling to live that way again. The default societal expectations for what a woman should put up with are pretty unappealing.
Society is changing on multiple fronts, not just this one. Those changes are going to go forward with or without sex bots. Many of those changes are going to undermine our historical expectations for what sex and relationships are all about. This is already occurring in ways that many people fail to recognize because so many people have so little understanding of what life was like for the common man prior to their own firsthand experiences. But these changes shall march on anyway. In fact, these changes may be part of what is driving interest in and demand for other options where you do not have to put up with someone else in order to get your sexual needs met.
How you first learn about sex affects how you treat other human beings -- including as mere rape targets for example...
and so on.
Why is it considered acceptable to enslave
"The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" by Douglas Adams includes an animal that has been genetically engineered to want to be eaten . If AI took a form where their personalities could be precisely configured, they could simply be configured to joyfully consent to whatever fate their creators had in store for them.
I think these people are trying to develop a human-shaped machine that behaves sufficiently humanlike to make it a sufficiently satisfying sex partner for a sufficiently large market. This probably means teaching it to hold a fairly restricted set of conversations, and (more importantly) to move around and handle physical contact in the right ways. Maybe they'll plug it into some other, more advanced services developed by other, larger companies to handle speech recognition and slightly broader conversations.
If someone does develop a library that anyone can use to instantiate a general-purpose AI, and that actually becomes the simplest way for these people to implement their product, I think they would instantiate it with an emotional makeup such that all they wanted to do was please their owner. In such a case, slavery would be unnecessary. (Is instantiating AIs with arbitrary emotional makeups immoral? The thing is, you probably have to pick some makeup, and choosing a potentially bad one at random is just as irresponsible as choosing it deliberately. The most obvious criterion, "Will this new AI I'm creating have a happy life?", would probably be easy to satisfy.)
I am not being snarky. The creation of something new like this winds up bringing up questions that did not exist previously. In order to determine a "moral" answer here, you are going to need to figure out the parameters under which morality applies to sex bots and the reasons why it applies. Otherwise, it is no different from a toaster: Just a thing you buy to take care of some need of yours.