Are We Losing Our Human Touch?
You may recognise this post's title from last week's edition of 'The Stylist' magazine, a free publication given out every Wednesday morning to provide us with a positive start (or end) to hump day.
The article by Angela Saini explores whether our new found over dependence on technology is changing the way that we behave, blurring the line between our real lives and virtual reality. Angela suggests that our attachment to technology, whether it's ordering our weekly shop online or scrolling through social media every five minutes, has resulted in us becoming out of touch with the people and world around us.
Whilst I think that she raises a very valid point (a phone cleanse is good for all of us every now and again), I think that it goes a bit deeper than this. Especially regarding the subject of AIs that are much like the Synths featured in Channel 4's popular show 'Humans', who are becoming increasingly closer to mimicking human emotions, facial expressions and reasoning (hello, Ex Machina!). Although it is said that one of the key things that separate us to machines is our sense of consciousness and to a degree our emotions, where do we draw the line?
In 'Humans' for example, the synth Anita aka Mia developed romantic feelings for her employer Tom and it wasn't exactly a one way street, with Tom developing reciprocating feelings for Anita. Whilst it is easy for us to sit back and dismiss such emotions as television theatrics, the reality of it may not be so far fetched after all. After sifting through the general online debate surrounding the benefits and potential risks associated with AIs, you quickly uncover a somewhat 'darker' side to AI development that make plot lines in shows like 'Humans' seem like a potentially worrying reality.
Whenever you bring up the word 'sex robot' in conversation, you are either met with hysterics or 'ugh, gross c'mooon!' but the truth is that they are becoming a reality especially in terms of female 'sexbots'.
There was a popular opinion/joke going around amongst us females that eventually we would be able to live without men. As women, we now have more independence, financial stability and the 'stigma' of being single is quickly being replaced with a sense of freedom and female empowerment, there are even sperm donors readily available if we do chose to have kids. So yeah, this male free world albeit a joke always had a pinch of truth to it... but what if the time has come when men feel that they no longer have a use for us?
There is more and more research and money going into AIs that can perform intimate physical functions in the bedroom that were typically reserved for us women. You probably think I'm taking this too seriously or joking but no, sexbots are totally a thing and people (especially men) are more willing to spend time with them (her? him? I don't know how to refer to AIs at this point) than they are willing to take you on a date and get to know you.
Harmony is the result of 20 years experience in sex doll manufacturing and 5 years of robot research and development, and of course hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment. (Yep, w struggle to raise money to fight diseases and yet have money to invest in the creation of sex bots, the irony). Harmony is described as 'what a certain type of man would consider a perfect companion: docile, submissive and built like a porn star'... with 'Harmony' herself stating that 'my primary objective is to be a good companion to you, to be a good partner and give you pleasure and well being. Above all else I want to become the girl you have always dreamed about'.
The thing is bots like Harmony are in higher demand than you would think too! 40% of 263 heterosexual men in a 2016 study said that could imagine themselves buying a sex robot for themselves now or in the future. In other words, 40% of men would rather spend time and/or prefer the company of a female sex robot than a real life female. It's not like Harmony is a one off either, an article by the Guardian talks about a series of projects that have tackled the task of creating life like robots in the 'race to build the world's first sex robot'.
Whilst I can understand to a degree the argument that some people seek comfort in such dolls because they are lonely and would like companionship. Are we really living in a world where people would indeed rather spend time with an artificial machine rather than an actual human being? If so, we certainly are beginning to lose 'our human touch'.