Robots and Gender
By Dean Balsamo
(Indigenous Warrior- Mexico. Museo Nacional De Anthropologia)
If the accusations, resignations and incidents of the last couple of years have taught us anything it’s that
The biological imperative we arise from— guarantees we Homo sapiens view everything with a male or female gaze.
Hell. We label everything from rock formations and cloud patterns to cars and cannabis as male or female. It’s an integral part of our relationship with the world. We can’t escape it. It’s built into our genes.
That’s why I found a recent article entitled It’s About Time To Talk About Robot Stereotypes by Matt Simon on Wired magazine’s website so surprising.
As a long time subscriber I’ve watched it sacrifice its outlaw steampunk attitude and climb on board the corporate Silicon Valley train. Now it’s all social engineering and virtue signaling.
The author makes the case for robot designers and those who use them—the rest of us—to avoid gender as much as possible when creating our robots.
He lumps our biological attachment to gender in with “social problems, ” that he hopes robot designers will help mitigate by removing as much of our legacy associations with gender as possible.
Further on he says, “Why go backwards? Why refer to gender norms from the 1960’s “ (what about the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s on up to the present day?)…
And says this about the process: “The struggle is against capitalism’s tendency to gender every product it can.”
So even though capitalism is only a few hundred years old he’s using it retroactively to explain the human race’s predisposition to gender?
Now we’re supposed to drop our associations with gender—driven by our biology just like that when it comes to interacting with robots—our future selves?
(from the author’s Sapien Suite. Mixed media on paper)
Granted we all want to mollify the more negative aspects of gender differences but c’mon is it really possible to treat robots as a blank slate at this point?
We’ve already sexualized AI. Our attachment to our phones already makes us “cyborgs” according to Musk. We’ve already put a gender spin on things
A more realistic approach comes from Randy Eady a futurist in Florida with a twin focus on developments in care-giving robots and human mind expansion.
Randy’s Profile Link:
I recommend looking at his posts in my feed and on his Facebook page to get a feeling of where we’re heading in these areas. It’s clear from what I can see that even the care-giving robots are being designed with a serious nod to gender.
Studies indicate that using features we see as male, female, and animal on the robots –awakens more interaction and attachment on the part of the humans interacting with them.
You can’t “sell” the robot to Homo sapiens without gender. It’s the best entry point for getting humans on board with our Robot future selves.
Take a robot security guard for instance. Who’s going to be more effective at their job–the tall robot with broad shoulders, a deep voice and a mean glare or a doe-eyed, soft-voice robot with a demure manner and stature?
The need and drive for gender in robots is most clearly seen in the evolving sex bot industry built on the legacy history of the sex doll which they can’t ignore if they want to be successful. Can you imagine intimate relations with a sex bot without gender? The robot designers can’t.
And neither can David Levy the author of Love + Sex With Robots — one of the seminal books on the subject.
Reading it, I’m convinced as the author suggests, that by mid-century intimate relations between fem/male sex bots and humans will be commonplace in our society because the robot makers are following Best Practices in this regard.
And those are based on…. The Orgasm. The drive for sexual pleasure will make the sex bots irresistible to many humans as the various gender-related signs of attraction and affection become more realistic…more…human.
It’s as primal as that. The urge to imprint gender on our robots is inescapable. How do you overturn a legacy with a million years behind it—over night?
The biological meme that divides us into sexes acts something like a shape-shifter—carrying its design strategies even into the non-human robot.
Gender is our entry point into life and wherever life takes us. And the more pronounced the gender differences and more fine-tuned they become –the more successful will robot designers be in getting humans on board with them.
Ironically I can see our current society’s attempts to blur the differences between the sexes triggering an equally pronounced drive to create hyper representations of idealized male and female attributes in …our robots. Fantasies become embodied in the robot.
Will the robots replace the sexual relations we now (hopefully) enjoy with other humans? Maybe for some.
But for the majority intimate relations with sex bots will be more a way of adding a different sexual experience to our lives than replacing human contact.
Who knows…some of the traits and attributes we find desirable in our robots may even begin to surface again in our human-to-human relationships.
We can only imagine what Freud or Reich might have to say about the matter.
He Smashes through the Saga
like a Comet Through Butter
And writes his story
like pictographs on rocks
with his own piss.