As we slip deeper into the uncharted waters of the technology age, it’s no surprise that very smart people are coming up with easier, more automated ways of doing things, many of which replace error-prone humans with precise computers. More surprising is the fact that we’ve already built a momentum toward replacing humans with machines for everything, from cracking jokes to making love.
This point is driven home in a fascinating, if not mildly terrifying, article by Richard Morgan in New York (June 17, 2013) that runs down the list of robots currently in development for a variety of tasks that humans may want to think twice about relinquishing. As Morgan writes: “Machines have been chipping away manufacturing jobs for decades, proving themselves faster, cheaper, and more precise than flesh-and-blood line workers. Now engineers are aiming higher than factory drudgery, pivoting from menial to artisanal labor once thought exclusively human.”
Some of the robots sound pretty funny, such as the “comedian” in development at the University of Washington that’s programmed to respond to appropriate statements with the double-entendre favorite “that’s what she said,” and actually be funny doing it about 71.4 percent of the time. Then there’s Makr Shakr, which is a bartending robot that was developed at MIT and is capable of making an almost endless number of drink combinations.
Of course, there are also questionable robots out there, too, like Ron Arkin’s bots at Georgia Tech which have been programmed to be deceptive, and the robots that scan your brain while you sleep and paint your dreams in select rooms at Ibis Hotels in London, Paris, and Berlin. And what good would a robot be if you couldn’t have sex with it? Make room in the bedroom for the sexbots of New Jersey-based True Companion, which feature fully-customizable male and female robots (Rocky and Roxxxy, respectively). The amorous pair even features seven different personalities for the ultimate in human substitution.