My last post dealt with something I saw in a newspaper and that turned into a discussion about London freesheets, but I didn't mention the Metro.
I don't generally read it in the evenings - it's a morning paper, after all - but I saw a picture on the front cover that I recognised. Yep, definitely Doctor Life (as opposed to Doctor Light. Sorry. Needed to do that.) - as publicised on Tom's blog. I flipped forward a few pages, now drawn into the paper bu a vague connection to my sex blog browsing...
...and saw this.
A Canadian guy named Le Trung (actually, that sounds French-Asian, but apparently he lives in Canada) has built himself a girlfriend. I've watched a short film on plastic love before, but this isn't really the same thing. Aiko - the name of his pretend girlfriend - is a highly sophisticated android, costing in excess of $20,000 (WTF?!). She can recognise faces, do stuff like butter toast, pick things up and even speak (English and Japanese. Hmm.) - and as this video shows, she can feel pain, too. She even slaps you when you touch her breasts.
I've got to stop using so many hyperlinks. Okay, no more hyperlinks now.
The main problem wth the way the Metro was reporting it was that it seemed to assume Aiko was Trung's girlfriend, and although he does seem affectionate with her, he's never actually claimed that she is as such - she can be programmed for sex, he says, but he has never done that - "AND yes Aiko is still a virgin, AND NO I do not sleep with her." Thanks for clearing that one up, Trung.
The reason I'm writing about this is because I can almost sense the inevitable backlash - once people get more news of this, they will talk. Of course, this is in Canada, and the UK won't get much story about it (thank Glod, or the Daily Mail would have a field day). But there are going to be people claiming that:
- Trung is wrong for trying to replicate the bulding blocks of life
- Aiko will never be similar enough to humankind
- This is perverse, for some reason, and maybe he should get a life for himself except of making one
- He's lying, and is using her for sex
Personally, I don't actually have any problem with it. Trung's claim is that robots like Aiko could provide around-the-clock care for elderly people, which is actually possible and something that any naysayers may not have considered. If you are lonely, or isolated, or just need a companion, then maybe Aiko wouldn't be such a bad person to have around. I'm not entirely 'with' the Metro in that they've played up the fact that she doesn't answer back if you switch her on - in fact, that's one of the worst things they've ever printed - but I'm intrgued by this whole story. It's fascinating.
I wouldn't want an Aiko to play with. I'd much prefer the real thing, and she may be good at maths, but I can't imagine a conversation about the changing world of Shakespeare with her. But I would like to have a conversation with her - I've been amused by AI ever since Talkie Toaster popped up on Red Dwarf. She does sound a bit like a TomTom autoroute device, though.
There's a site about her here. Oh, damn. I'll have to punish myself now. Maybe there's a robot that could do that somewhere...