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This one’s for you, John, or “I built a sex robot in your memory”

I’m sure more than a few of you will have seen the story out of this week’s Adult Entertainment Expo about the launch of TrueCompanion’s “anatomically consistent” artificial intelligence-driven sex robot, Roxxxy.

I’m reasonably unmoved by the story itself: sex robots aren’t new, and I think it’s safe to assume they’ll grow more sophisticated and lifelike in years to come (if you’d like to know more you might want to check out Shouting to hear the echoes as an introduction to the wild and wonderful world of Synthetiks).

But there’s a detail buried in The Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage of the launch which had me choking on my muesli. Apparently:

“Inspiration for the sex robot sprang from the September 11, 2001 attacks. ‘I had a friend who passed away in 9/11,’ [Roxxxy’s creator, Douglas Hines] said. ‘I promised myself I would create a program to store his personality, and that became the foundation for Roxxxy True Companion’.”

Now, quite aside from the fact this is pretty much the plot of Caprica (which I’ll be reviewing in the next couple of weeks), am I wrong in thinking there’s something splendidly weird about the idea of creating a sex robot to commemorate a friend’s passing? And, if we wanted to get all psychological for a moment, that there’s something about the way the idea mixes up subject and object (literally and metaphorically) which goes to the heart of pornography and the sex industries more generally? Or is it just that Marx was right all along, and all history, no matter how dreadful, is eventually and inevitably reborn as farce?

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’d witnessed the TrueCompanion demonstration firsthand, and it was interesting, to say the least. Learning of the tragic idea that drove Mr Hines to embark on his project made sense on some level. I hope that his friend, wherever he may be now, approves…

    And thanks for the positive press! 🙂

    January 12, 2010
    • Oh come on now, don’t tease – what was it like? In the video I watched the display unit just sat there like a store dummy – how was it when it (she?) moved?

      January 12, 2010
  2. She — and as rabidly pro-Synthetik as I am, even I hesitate to call it a ‘she’ — didn’t move at all. Which, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t make ‘her’ a robot, cos usually by definition, robots move. She has canned touch-sensitive responses, but that’s the lot, really.

    I mean yes, I understand that the Doll is a prototype, but Mr Hines kinda fell a wee bit short of his bluster. I, and a lot of other iDollators/technosexuals/what-have-you, were expecting Cherry 2000, and we ended up with Cherry 1.

    January 12, 2010

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