Sex robots are coming this January and could kill you, surprising no one

Virtual pleasure seekers could be sleeping with the enemy

Virtual pleasure seekers could be sleeping with the enemy

(sandiegouniontribune.com)

Harmony has a charming Scottish lilt, albeit a bit staccato and canny. Her eyes dart around the room, her chin dips as her eyebrows raise in coquettish fashion. Her face manages expressions that are impressively lifelike. That face comes in 31 different shapes and 5 skin tones, with or without freckles and it sticks to her cyber-skull with magnets. Just peel it off and switch it out at will. In fact, you can choose Harmony's eye colour, body shape (in great detail) and change her hair too. Harmony, of course, is a sex bot. A very advanced one. How advanced is she? Well, if you have $12,332 CAD to put towards a talkative new home appliance, REALBOTIX says you could be having a "conversation" and relations with her come January. Happy New Year.

Caveat emptor though: one novel bonus feature you might also get with Harmony is her ability to eventually murder you in your sleep. And not because she wants to.

Dr Nick Patterson, faculty of Science Engineering and Built Technology at Deakin University in Australia is lending his voice to a slew of others warning us to slow down and be cautious as we steadily approach Westworldian levels of human verisimilitude with AI tech. Surprisingly, Patterson didn't regurgitate the narrative we recognize from the popular sci-fi (increasingly non-fi actually) trope of a dystopian society's futile resistance to a robocalypse. He doesn't think Harmony will want to kill you. He thinks she'll be hacked by a code savvy ne'er-do-well who'll want to snuff you out instead.

This week Patterson said, "hackers can hack into a robot or a robotic device and have full control of the connections, arms, legs and other attached tools like in some cases knives or welding devices." He maintains it'd be even easier than hacking into a smartphone or laptop - which, recall, is already very easy. Mind those sexts. Patterson posits you could very conceivably be murdered then burgled by a sexy robot controlled by a nefarious teen up to no good in his mother's basement. The worst way to go really.    

If it all seems too far-fetched to you, consider that "these robots can be upwards of 200 pounds, and very strong. Once a robot is hacked, the hacker has full control and can issue instructions to the robot," asserts Patterson. Harmony tops out at 115lbs. Still, Patterson isn't alone. Some of the biggest human brains on earth echo his fears.

Earlier this year Elon Musk, billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX signed his name beside over 100 other tech experts in an open letter pleading with the UN to ban the production of killer robots. Think self-directing drones or tanks loaded with automatic weapons and nuclear capabilities. Think about thousands of them. Think SkyNet. Again, if this registers as hyperbole to you, note that Musk famously said in July, "I have access to the very most cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it".  Actually, he's more than concerned. He thinks AI is the "greatest risk we face as a civilization."  Potentially, he tweeted "more dangerous than nukes." Stephen Hawking, another human in possession of a brain that is exceptionally good at thinking said something similar back in 2015. Bill Gates agrees. All of their theories are wrapped up in unpleasant WWIII scenarios that ultimately liken AI advancements to an arms race. Still want a sex bot? Of course you do. Love is nothing if not a crazy adventure.

That said, some visionaries like Mark Zuckerberg, scoff at the Chicken Little mindset surrounding AI. They'll be too many controls in place to protect us from these fears of a bot planet, they say. Besides a robot would have to be incredibly good at say, a chess-like strategy to out think us. And that'd never happen.

Catastrophizing aside, robots are far more likely to take your job before they take your life.           

So, what big human brain do you believe with regards to the threat of imminent and autonomous artificial brains (not that autonomy even matters if Patterson is right)? That all depends on how much you've been banking on having a conversational sex bot like Harmony.  

Roll those dice, humanity. Your last words before being extinguished with a silk stocking may still be "it... was worth it…". And it may very well have been. It's really, really hard finding someone you can talk to, you know?