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December 12 2008

Canadian man builds himself robot girlfriend. The lovebot has "clear skin, a slim if shapely figure and a wonderful disposition". Sadly the robot overlord is not called Mr Universe.

*snort*

I saw this on Huffington Post the other day and almost posted it here because that article actually called her a "fem-bot."
Me, too, BrewBunny. Me, too. I immediately thought of Buffy season 5 (and Spike's hilarious reference in Angel season 5 to his earlier 'Bot days). I didn't think of Serenity and Mister Universe. Weird.
Me three. I didn't think it would have a ghost of a chance for staying up, though.
"Aiko doesn't need holidays, food or rest, and will work almost 24 hours a day. She is the perfect woman."

Why does he build such strong women chara-- wait, what?!

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2008-12-12 21:02 ]
Holy mother of god, that is the creepiest thing I have ever read on the internet.
Lovebots are a reoccuring theme in Joss Whedon's work, and somebody finally made a semi-life like one which speaks and stuff.

And yes, it's creepy as hell.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-12-12 21:18 ]
The guy has posted a dozen videos on youtube of Aiko.

http://www.youtube.com/user/aibot21

Her responses to being poked and prodded by the public are actually quite good (although rather repetitive).
AlanD, that's a great link, cheers. Good lord it's creepy. It recognises faces! And follows your gaze around!
That's more than I do.
That's because you're an early model. Don't worry, The One True b!X 2.0 will come with many exciting features, including a direct feed to Twitter.
How can there be a One True b!X 2.0?! Madness!
If they can make a Final Fantasy XIII, anything is possible, b!x.
I was assuming it would be an upgrade to the One True b!X 1.0.
It all sounds kind of painful to me.
She's been compared to Cameron over on the Terminator blog. http://www.fox.com/blogs/terminator/2008/12/10/cameron-2/

"Let’s just hope no one gives Aiko her first 9mm anytime soon…"
I am thoroughly creeped out now.
Well I'm disturbed.

I applaud his genius, but I do not think this fulfills his need of "the perfect woman". I also feel weird that all of those people she met have "hurt" her in some fashion (re: her response). Does she remember that as well? What would a creation like this lead to?
Given the youtube video of Aiko in action (whereby Aiko is 'tested' by 'hurting' her and squeezing her breasts) this is a big 'eugh, no!'! 1 step forwards and two steps back (IMO)....

(didn't see your post Korkster :-) )

[ edited by Rosalind on 2008-12-12 22:17 ]
I for one was already disturbed.

Anyhoo, this is just, just...rock bottom gross. "Ow. You're hurting me. I don't like it when you hurt me." If you hurt her hard enough, does she hulk? Now, that would be cool.

BTW, in an epic battle of Cameron vs this Fembot, my money is on Cameron, at least until the hulking issue is resolved.
I saw this on the TV news yesterday, so it's made the mainstream (meaning less internety) media as well. The newscaster gave a warning before the segment, something like "some people may be offended by the content of this report."

The thing is just very creepy.
I had a thread pulled because there's an actual Dr. Horrible near me, and this stays up?
I don't think Cameron would do anything but deliver a learned-by-observation eyeroll and walk away.
Shades of Warren Mears.

The "perfect woman"????

How disturbing. This level of creepy, I think it's a ten.
Creepy is the word for it. Wonder when they can ship mine...?
You'd think they could have given it a sexier voice.

Uh...I'm mean that's creepy and wrong.
I think this incident is too content-free to be truly creepy. I get the impression that just maybe, maybe, he's calling her perfect in a tongue-in-cheek way.

I mean,w e already know computers can do this kind of stuff, so why be bothered about the shell it's in? From the pics she doesn't seem all that life-like.

But insofar as he's serious he's a "creepy dweeb," to quote La Buf.
DaddyCatALSO, I think the linked article is too content free to be truly creepy....but the other links show the whole concept to be genuinely creepy, in part because of the 'dialogue' \ 'relationship' with the human (ie as i mentioned in my previous post) :-(

[ edited by Rosalind on 2008-12-12 23:15 ]
Well, where's my submissive man-bot that I welcome others to kick between the legs so they can see that the man-bot detects it? I bet it would fill the room... all lined up to freely kick someone in the nads.

And then I want my man-bot to tell me how much he loves me and that only real men cry.
Korkster, I just checked, Amazon can't deliver till the 29th.... ;-)
Aiko doesn't need holidays, food or rest, and will work almost 24 hours a day. She is the perfect woman.

The perfect women works all day and has no personal needs or desires. Yeah huh, suuuuuuure.

She still can't walk, however.

His pretty can't escape, huh?

So this creation makes me think there needs to be a whole new exploratory area of pyschotherapy in the future entitled 'Me and My Robot: Inadequacy and Coping Methods.' Is anyone else getting some post-apocalyptic Terminator flashes for this creation? People will look back on Judgment Day and say, "This all started with a guy who made himself a girlfriend." Is it wrong that I'd find this less creepy if he'd made himself a killing machine?
The irony of this is, for my final exam we had to cover a topic with this question: If robots existed in the Untied States, would they be entitled to the same human rights we have? While this is fascinating on a technological level, it also brings up some interesting (and slightly disturbing) issues.
interesting (and slightly disturbing) issues.

More than slightly disturbing for me.
"Aiko is what happens when science meets beauty," Le Trung tells the Sun of London. "Aiko doesn't need holidays, food or rest, and will work almost 24 hours a day. She is the perfect woman."

Uh...NO.

This is just...gah. I have no words. So creeped out right now.
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Had to be done

Also, my previous post was before watching the poking video. Yeah, that's pretty tasteless and disgusting.
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


And also, ironically, one of the stories we read for that class was Asimov's "Robbie".
Ah the classics, you just know that when the cylons and the terminators get together for drinks and oil change anyone mentioning Asimov or the laws of robotics gets a really big laugh, probably have to buy the next round too.
Please don't let this guy affect your opinion of Canadians. There are 30 million of us, most of whom don't creepily build robot girlfriends.
I just watched the youtube video of Aiko and a number of thoughts occured to me.

First, that while this man's genius is admirable the disturbing factor for me comes from his interview where he equates Aiko's abilities with the "perfect woman". If he didn't have such a disturbing view of his creation, I'd probably be applauding his efforts. But as it is, it's damned unsettling.

Second, the behavior Aiko elicits from those at the Ontario convention is very disturbing. If and when a more advanced Artificial Intelligence is created, will it be so carelessly abused just for humanity's curiosity? The way the people clustered around Aiko, slapping and even punching her face, was an ugly look at humanity's potential for selfish cruelty. That youtube video was all about Aiko expressing pain ("Stop hitting my face, you're hurting me"). It's very disturbing to witness the abuse of a creation made in the image of a person, some other that makes it less worthy of respect.
Sorry, WilliamTheB, but I think it is Canada's fault. ;)

As for all the artistic mediums we've seen this topic discussed (Terminator; T:TSCC; A.I.; I, Robot; Bicentennial Man; Short Circuit), it NEVER ends well for those who insist on treating AI as robots (no rights, no considerations). (Sorry for no inclusion of Cylons, but I haven't seen BSG yet.)

My thinking is if you're going to design AI to be as human-like as possible, you need to be open to the idea that these "robots" will one day demand rights & recognition.
"She can recognize faces, she can identify medication, she can even butter your toast," Le Trung tells the Toronto Globe and Mail.

...And thus, "butter your toast" entered the lexicon of sexual metaphors.
"she can even butter your toast," .....oh...yeah......

"When you take life too seriously, it ceases to be funny."
I get more of a Warren vibe than Mr. Universe from the story.
*shudder*

This is just... creepy.

No me gusta.
Someday she'll be a Real Girl...
The whole creepy doll-in-a-wheelchair thing reminds of the excellent indie film from last year Lars and the Real Girl (written by Nancy Oliver, who now writes/produces for True Blood.)
A man inserts a voice apparatus in a piece of silicone and it's creepy. A woman inserts a piece of silicone in her voice apparatus and it's creepy.
Lay off the silicone, it's creepy.

Still can't spell, it's getting creepy.

[ edited by hence on 2008-12-13 06:33 ]
Please don't let this guy affect your opinion of Canadians. There are 30 million of us, most of whom don't creepily build robot girlfriends.


My ancestor explored Canada, I wonder what he would think of it all.
My thinking is if you're going to design AI to be as human-like as possible, you need to be open to the idea that these "robots" will one day demand rights & recognition.

As little as I honestly respect real AI researchers in terms of their wildest, creating sentient minds, aims, I'd never call this a real AI project. I think we might be lucky that this person thinks he can create a girlfriend through machinery, rather than by altering a real person. 'Cause that's happened.
He's just making the rest of the 30 somethings who still live with their parents look bad.
Stop the presses... a socially maladjusted robotics engineer did something creepy!!

(No offense to all you socially maladjusted engineer-y types... please don't send your hard-working love-bots after me!)

Then again, I don't know? Maybe he is not all that socially maladjusted. I mean, what better way to get people talking than to put a "human" face, much less a female one, on a robot? If it had been shaped like an erector set with camera lenses for eyes and blinking red lights for a mouth, I doubt mainstream media (television) would have run with it. Even if it could do all the same things with facial recognition and sensory response, etc. it probably still wouldn't have made the news. He has created much more of an uproar by having the bot take the shape of a woman and presenting her as "perfect", while following up with what a lot of people would probably consider somewhat inflammatory remarks about the nature of what makes a woman "perfect" in his opinion.

Meh. There is probably some chauvinistic venture capitalist knocking down his door as we speak.

Or he could just be a creep. Who knows. :)
Simon: You're related to the Simon Fraser University Simon Fraser? Neat.
Her voice sounds so sad. Especially when she says, "why?"
I agree that the 'Whedonverse' link is tenuous at best, but needless this is a fascinating topic that has had some very interesting responses from the world at large.

Scary and creepy as it seems (did he really refer to a vagina as a 'down there'? GULP!), the rise of the 'robot girlfriend' is the next logical AI move, especially given the explosion of manga and hentai since the dawn of tha' interwebs.
It's almost a natural progression when you think of it- reproductive technology easily allows women to have babies without a 'real man' present, so naturally, some men will seek to eliminate 'real women' from their lives. (Next move- an incubator that can grow and birth babies!)

Still, no amount of programming can account for a real, warm, heartfelt hug from another human, or THAT moment when the one you love says something so utterly, completely unexpected, that you realise why you fell in love with them in the first place.
Early Skynet alert, where are Cameron and John when you need them?

But seriously ....
"Aiko doesn't need holidays, food or rest, and will work almost 24 hours a day. She is the perfect woman."

.... how sick and creepy is that? Especially when you watch the video and this creep tests "her" responses by first subjecting her to "pain", then groping her breast.

I'm waiting for the most bad-ass of the Cylon Sixes to come and kick his misogynistic little ass.
I treat my Spike-bot very well....

I mean, um, how creepy.
In the realm of fantasy, sexual psychology, and wish realization, I suppose this is no different than the "furries," or extreme tattooing and piercing. The Real Doll (or is it RealDoll) already exists, and it is made to be a sexual partner (though perhaps even creepier, it is totally passive - unmechanized). I'm not at all convinced this guy isn't using his doll for that purpose. Way back when Westworld exemplified the dangers of this.
Thanks for the clarifications, Rosalind and everyone else, I amend my statement. Yeeesh.

And "down there" at first sturck me as objectively descriptive but as soem of you've mentioned, it's a clumsy euphemism. If he wanted to avoid a spepcific statement, why didn't he just go fully Victorian and say "her own places" like I did once (well, I used "their") in a W&T fic?

I might think it's okay if the technology were as advanced as in Westworld, or even in Creation of the Humanoids, but not at this point. "I've heard that your sister is in rapport."

And I do not plan on asking anyone in my office to "butter my toast" anytime soon...or late. A guy like this has to know what that sounds like.

(I started using the term "content-free" back in the 90s when I thought some of my fellow evangelicals were making too much fuss over Married, With Children.)
Well, she is very pretty.

But...$20,000? Geez! I can think of a ton of better things to spend that kind of money on. Like...moving out of his parents' house, for one thing.

Judging by the comments here, for once I'm happy I'm on dial-up & can't watch the videos.

However...the picture of her "reclining in bed" sure seemed to be...uh...well...he claims she's not for sex and yet he dresses & poses her that way for a publicity picture? Yeah. Sure. Whatever.
I can think of a ton of better things to spend that kind of money on. Like...moving out of his parents' house, for one thing.

Game, set, match.
While it's normal for us to be disturbed by the instances where people are poking and prodding her (it) and she's (it's) telling them to stop or that it hurts, it's important to remember that she (it) isn't actually feeling pain. It's a machine that's been programmed to say that in response to its arm sensors being stimulated.

It's really hard to not describe it with gender pronouns, but I guess it's okay to since it's a character. If I can play video games and recognize the stars of that media as having distinct genders, I guess it's okay to refer to this thing as a "she" too. It just feels really weird to do that, because it/she sure doesn't have much character.

Despite all the sci-fi stories that've explored what could go wrong (most recently Wall-E), I'm pretty sure we're a long way off from the advancements needed to get these things to the point where they're complex enough, if it's even possible, where they could malfunction/rebel/demand rights. I suppose if they manufacture really mobile, potentially lethal versions of them in my lifetime (I know they already have drone planes and a few other weapons in the works), even if the robot itself isn't messing up/developing on its own, a human being could still override and abuse them (use them against other humans) or infect them with a computer virus or something.

I won't make any judgement if the dude's using it for sex too, the life-size doll fetish already exists. I guess I'd have a little more respect for him if he's at least dated a lot and not found what he's looking for or been burned really badly or something to the point where he's this desperate. The subservient Japanese schoolgirl/maid/wallflower look that he's given her/it is creepy though. And I mean no disrespect if you're from Japan and those outfits (aside from the Cosplay one) are common dress, this is just coming from my admittedly limited North American perspective.

The social implications are interesting to dissect/predict, but any worries about this leading to something that will demand rights or spell the downfall of humanity through new kinds of wars or replacement, or that it's anything more than a hunk of metal that's been programmed to provoke an emotional response in us despite the fact that it has no emotions itself, not even at a level that many animals do, is just hysterics at this point, IMO.

[ edited by Kris on 2008-12-13 21:20 ]
One thing I can't quite pull away from is that it looks human and so even tho it isn't feeling anything people are feeling prompted to do things that would be mean if done to a real person. Perhaps you want to touch it but you don't have to touch it that way. It doesn't have to signify anything about the person doing it, but it could.
just hysterics at this point

Well, I think the Terminator references were coming from a joking tone (I know mine was). My concern is the creation of something that looks like a woman (and will presumably look even more life-like as technology progresses) and that "it" will be treated as a replacement for egalitarian, human interaction. I think it's fair to be concerned with how people are treating this creation and what it may mean for future society.
I think it's fair to be concerned with how people are treating this creation and what it may mean for future society.

I don't think the issue is whether or not it raises interesting or concerning questions. I think the issue was whether or not freaking out over civil rights for robots or the downfall of humanity might not be a little ludicrously premature.
Ah, but if everyone failed to explore those hypotheticals then we would never have such entertaining post-Apocalyptic fictional works like Terminator, the Matrix, AI and Blade Runner.

I guess I missed the 'freaking out' tone. I was reading it more as negative what-ifs resulting from this type of technological advance. Speculating running rampant into even extreme possibilities is still just speculation in my book.

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