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[Simulated Part Two] In bed with machines: a real-life and sci-fi exploration of sex robots

An illustration of two people in bed. The person on the left has light skin, more feminine features, no hair and bits of metal and wires showing, suggesting a robot. That person is sitting up in bed reading a book with rockets and space ships on the cover. The person on the right has skin that is a little darker, short dark hair and more masculine features. That person is lying down on their side turned toward the robot with their arm over the robot.
Charnel Hunter

Sex robots have been a sci-fi staple since the genre’s birth. Now that more advancements in technology are bringing early generation bots to life,  how will they impact our human to human relationships?

With her blonde hair, soft Scottish accent, curvaceous figure and cutting-edge artificial intelligence, Harmony is the most advanced model of her kind. Harmony is a sex robot, debuted in 2018 by the company Abyss Creations. In the past five years, she’s gotten smarter, more dexterous and more life-like … but is still working out some fundamental kinks like how to walk and connect with human beings. Her existence also brings up a whole slew of privacy concerns, ethical questions and unimagined possibilities. Host Anita Rao explores the intriguing evolution of sex robots, tracing their origins from ancient myths to modern-day machines like Harmony.

AI sextech scholar Kate Devlin joins the conversation to talk about her book “Turned On: Science, Sex, and Robots.” Kate is a scholar of artificial intelligence and society in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, and she has been keeping an eye on the sexbot world since its inception. As a feminist and self-proclaimed robo-sexologist, she breaks down some of the biggest ethical issues associated with the sexbots, including the further objectification of female bodies and digital privacy concerns for intimate technology.

Anita also chats with screenwriter Sarah Cho about her new graphic novel, Red Light, which takes readers into a futuristic AI brothel from the perspective of an AI sexbot herself. Sarah posits questions in the novel like: If sentience is the ultimate goal … does that mean robots should have rights?

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Gabriela Glueck is a producer for Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, health and relationships.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.