Thursday, July 7, 2011

Virtual Reality Lovers?

Yes. We are getting very close.

Very close to what? You ask?

Watch the video first. Then consider... just what's next?

And while we're at it, here's my contribution to this topic, a short sci fi story I wrote, "Simon's Beautiful Thought".

Did you know that there are already many kinds of remote manipulators?

There are suits you can wear (like the Vivid Cyber Sex Suit), hooked up over the internet to someone else of your choice, where you can each manipulate the other person's body, like virtual touch.

This suit was killed by the FCC for lack of proper testing issues, but come on, it's really only a matter of time.

There have been "waldos" for some time, allowing you to manipulate a mechanical glove located anywhere in the world. Surgeons are using devices like this now to perform surgery half a world away from them. This was a concept that has been around since before I was born and that now, was a long time ago. I remember reading about "waldos" when I was a kid and had first started reading Sci Fi back in the 60s.

According to Wikipedia: Waldo (1942) is a short story by Robert A. Heinlein originally published in Astounding Magazine in August 1942 under the pseudonym Anson MacDonald. It is available in the book Waldo & Magic, Inc., as well as other collections. This story is not related to the story "Magic, Inc." other than both stories being about magic in one form or another.

"The essence of the story is the journey of a mechanical genius from his self-imposed exile from the rest of humanity to a more normal life, conquering the disease myasthenia gravis as well as his own contempt for humans in general. The key to this is that magic is loose in the world, but in a logical and scientific way.

"Waldo Farthingwaite-Jones was born a weakling, unable even to lift his head up to drink or to hold a spoon. Far from destroying him, this channeled his intellect, and his family's money, into the development of the device patented as "Waldo F. Jones' Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph". Wearing a glove and harness, Waldo could control a much more powerful mechanical hand simply by moving his hand and fingers. This and other technologies he develops make him a rich man, rich enough to build a home in space. In the story, these devices became popularly known as "waldoes". In reference to this story, the real-life remote manipulators that were later developed also came to be called waldoes."

There are and have been for many many years, devices that mimick Human sexual organs and give pleasure, in some forms, going back thousands of years. One can already hear someone who isn't there, or see them; we now have videophones, for real, something that was for decades the domain only of science fiction movies.

Now you can also touch them and they can touch you. Finally we can create an attractive, real looking individual out of thin air, or from others, as a composite of your perfect ideal of a mate, as in the case of the virtual Japanese Rock Star.

AI is coming along nicely and it won't be long before you cannot tell that you are not talking to a real live person.

What's next? Obviously, The Virtual Lover. A fully computer generated, love and lust interest that simply does not exist and is always there at your beck and call. Literally. In wearing the right suit, or simply having the right components, you will not only not be able to tell that it is not a real person, but you will come, possibly, to prefer the fake over the real. Because as they say, no one can make lover to you, like you. Really? Well, some think so.

And having a virtual lover will be much easier and will come before a virtual Romantic Lover, because motion is always going to be easier to mimic than intellectual romance. But don't think that won't be next somewhere down that road. You can already buy a mock up of a male or female porn star. That hot person on the screen you lust after you can indeed feel what they are like close up and personal. What will it be like when you can have Brad or Angelina living with you at your home, at your beck and call, for every blow by blow action you could possibly require or desire?

I kind of makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

I remember reading a sci fi story decades ago about a guy on another planet that ran androids. Realistic looking robots, that a good "handler" could handle up to 9 or 13 at a time when working in the field digging or whatever. They had houses of ill repute for the Human laborers in these communities on these outer planets.

And as happens in real life, as has happened in the Old West, one of these guys comes to fall in love with one of the "prostitutes" only to find in the end, that it was a robot wired to a bed with a receiver beneath the bed that read his thought waves and responded in sexual responses to give him the most responsive and intense lovemaking session that could be possible. Think about it, ever been making love with your lover and they kept not quite doing what you needed and it was frustrating?

But think about that a little further and you begin to see the weirdness. He was basically making love to, himself. Maybe masturbation isn't a big deal, but when you actually fall in love with your hand, the object you are using for physical pleasure, when you actually have fallen romantically in love with a physical component such as a machine... that can't be good for the Human Race as a whole.

I suspect women have this problem more than men, actually, as men tend to be a bit more coarse in their actions and desires. But in this case, that would, could, never happen. Except in those moments when you don't know what you need and your partner magically just, does. But even that can be rectified over time as the AI would "learn" what you need and figure it out eventually, giving you exactly what you need, when you needed it. So, do you think people, especially some people, would find that addicting? See a problem here?

When you toss in that there are already life sized, realistic looking dolls (around $7,000)  where you can feel you are in the room with almost a real person, throw in some mechanics, speakers, a remote, maybe bluetooth connection to a very fast computer and some mobility and balance, voila, you have a real date. Even if the mobility issues are somewhere in the future, the rest is all pretty doable. Scary. You will literally be able to have a lover that you can keep in the closet until you want her. Or him.

Then there is the issue one article mentions, is having sex with a robot (or a doll), cheating?

At some point (for some, there will ALWAYS be some for whom) there will no longer be any reason  to even have a mate of their own. As a soul mate, (more like a CPUMate) will be able to be manufactured. What does that say when we no longer need to work for our relationship, we just design it to work with us?
Sean Young in BladeRunner
That doesn't even bring into call the whole BladeRunner concern, we're still just talking machines here.

But, that still brings along with it some serious, real concerns.

If you take a couple, who have a strange orientation, even antisocial, and turn them loose with one another, you can get some very interesting, and scary things. Serial murder partners, rapists partners, strange fetishists, weird psychosocial behaviors. Because they support one another's beliefs and ethics and spiral into very strange areas. Areas that may be counter to a healthy society. Surely, there will be some countermeasures and some situations that are very positive for the world.

Surely this will be good for some, especially those "objective fetishists" types who can get turned on my a street sign, a clock radio or a toaster. But what about normal Human relations? How will all this affect, that?

Then again maybe, finally, those Aliens will come down to Earth and show some interest in interacting and shaking things up a bit.

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