Technology is Enabling New Levels of Sexploitation

| Particle Debris

Sexploitation. It's a word that we like to think is constrained to unsavory websites and isn't approved of in polite society. And yet. Just as with many other technology developments that can be misused, 3-D printing and robot technology have enabled the construction of, if you will, android sex dolls. There are few legal constraints on this, and we can probably expect see it escalate quite a bit before social forces learn how to deal with it in a positive way.

The "Mark 1" Android.  Image credit: Reuters.

The Particle Debris standout article of the week is from Wired. "The Scarlett Johansson Bot Is the Robotic Future of Objectifying Women." For reference, here's the original article via Reuters Building a humanoid Hollywood star.

One might think the Wired piece is a overly sensational article, but it's based on a sober realization of the social implications. Here's a quote; the reference is to actress Scarlett Johansson.

News broke on Friday about a Hong Kong designer who made a robot that looks just like the award-winning actress—although Ricky Ma, the robot’s creator, wouldn’t name the actress he modeled the bot on, choosing instead to call it Mark 1. It took Ma eighteen months and over $50,000 to complete the project, which he constructed on his patio with a 3-D printer and software that he taught himself how to use.

Aside from the creepy factor, the legal aspects are explored next by Wired

But Ma made the robot in his house and may not necessarily profit. “So here Scarlett Johansson might face more First Amendment pushback,” said Calo. [a law professor at the University of Washington.] Still, according to Reuters, Ma does hope that an investor will buy his robot, which could give Scarlett Johansson clearer grounds to take legal action.

This article raises all kind of interesting issues.

  1. What if the commercial version of such an android looked like no other person on earth. There's no one to sue. Does that constitute a legal green light?
  2. Should laws be enacted to prevent the construction of what are, essentially, sophisticated sex toys in the form of a human being?
  3. More to the point, does the construction and use of such devices lead to a consumer mentality that's dangerous? Examples: By analogy, Twitter has created, in some cases, an overly abusive environment against innocent women. Here's another: Just as the occasional athlete, accustomed to professional violence, sometimes has a hard time controlling strong emotions with a partner, would the pervasive of use of such commercial devices unshackle/promote bad social impulses with real human beings?
  4. Would a major tech giant like Apple or Google ever consider such a project? (Some pieces are in moving into place, such as Siri, Atlas and Liam.) 

Given enough exploration, one can probably think of other factors that come into play with this kind of technology.

From the movie Ex Machina.

The concept is not new. This fantasy, if you will, has been explored in science fiction for many years now. The most recent example is the movie Ex Machina" But it's quite another thing to confront the reality of the technology and explore the implications in real life (and the courts) than it is to explore the mere concept in a dramatic film or TV show.

Siri and Other AIs

In somewhat of an oblique fashion, the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents comes in here. I saw another, related article, that explored the use of female voices for Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, and Amazon's Alexa. On The iPhone And The Women In Star Trek" The argument in this case goes like this:

But the default voice for all these digital assistants—Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft—comes from executives and engineers and employees who are decidedly male; roughly 80-percent, on average, and that percentage goes much higher when only engineering and executive jobs are considered.

Does Siri, in a female voice, objectify women?

Yes.

The author goes on to conclude, "Sex sells." In this case, however, I believe the author's argument is weak. There are technical reasons why, say, Apple would select a female voice as the default for environments that would be expected to be noisy, such as restaurants. Just as many aircraft cockpits use a female voice in audible alerts for technical reasons, like Bitching Betty," where formal testing has proven that certain frequencies and voices cut through noise and distraction in an emergency, the same applies to an AI assistant. Note that, in Settings, Apple's Siri can be changed to a male voice.

I don't know about the other AIs, but if there's no option to change the voice to male, then the PixoBebo author has a stronger case.

All in all, the emergence of specific technologies is getting a healthy discussion going about these matters. In time, and it will take some time, we'll move from science fiction fantasy/dramas to a collective and firm social and legal grasp of the situation. And how to deal with it.

Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 4th. Microsoft's Metamorphosis. The coming Tesla-Chevy war.

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Comments

geoduck

Robots
Sexbots, Gynoids, whatever you want to call them will arrive. One thing the internet taught me is that there is nothing on this planet including trees and rocks that some sick SOB doesn’t find arousing.

Electric Vehicles
The Tesla 3 will be interesting. Transitioning from a small company that hand makes products to a huge company that turns out a hundred thousand of something a year is very tricky. The company I work for is going through the transition and it is fraught with peril. Growing that fast is HARD. Bede Aircraft was the first example I remember. They made cute little homebuilt airplane kits that sold a few hundred per year. Then they came up with the BD-5 and everyone wanted one. They were flooded with orders. They couldn’t get engines. They couldn’t get avionics. They couldn’t get propellers. They had trouble getting enough aluminum and cutting the parts. They couldn’t even process all the orders and deposit checks fast enough (this was the pre internet, fill out a form, staple a check to it and stuff it in an envelope days). Finally they were so far behind that the company declared bankruptcy. Then there was the DeLorian. We all remember how that turned out. It will be interesting to see how Tesla makes the transition. It’s very possible that in five years there might only be the Volt and the Bolt, plus entries from other established car companies. Tesla is entering a minefield.

Oh and if I still lived in Minnesota I’d be more afraid of the batteries reaction to the cold than if a car was front or all wheel drive.

iPad Replacing the Mac
When I bought my 2012 MacBook Pro I said publically that it would likely be my last Mac. I really thought tablets would take over. Well…I’m in the market for a new MacBook Pro, in summer or fall, whenever they rollout the new Skylake models. While the iPad Pro is a huge step in the right direction, it isn’t there yet. The iPad and iOS just hasn’t evolved as fast as I had hoped/expected it to. Maybe THIS one will be my last Mac.

JustCause

sex·ploi·ta·tion: the commercial exploitation of sex, sexual attractiveness, or sexually explicit material.

It’s funny how we make this a bad thing, but mental-exploitation, athletic-exploitation. creative-exploitation, etc is OK. If someone can use their body to make millions in sports, why not have it be OK, for someone to make using their body for sex & fantasy. Because we are uptight about sex, time to get over it. 

The whole Scarlett Johansson spin, can she sue someone who uses plastic surgery to change their looks and then collects money for being a look-alike or even better someone who just naturally looks like her collects money for being a look alike. If you find a man/woman who looks similar can she sign over rights to use her appearance. PS Yes, it would bug the f**k out of me to have a bunch of droids looking like me, but maybe it shouldn’t.

skipaq

AAA takes on a whole new angle the first time someone calls due to dead batteries. The other day my wife drove our car to the dumpster rather than our electric cart out of fear the batteries would go dead. It is less than half a mile round trip. I wonder what she would think of an all electric drive to the beach? Kind of makes me skittish as well.

palmac

If Siri sounded like Brian Blessed would there be an outraged uproar of male objectification?  If someone made robots that looked like dead presidents would there be sexploitation protests outside Disney’s Hall of Presidents?  Given the choice I would prefer a soft female voice on my computer rather than a bland male, but should that choice be permanently removed because a few people are oversensitive?  When someone starts selling custom voices for AI are we going to outlaw everything that even slightly sounds female?

JustCause

@skipaq my thought is two fold, 1) cars should have a capacity add on feature (so you can add extra battery packs for long drives, taking up storage space) 2) tow trucks need to have a super capacitors for charging cars

palmac

P.S.: I would love to have a Brian Blessed AI voice for error messages.

JustCause

@palmac what would be cool, record any voice and have the AI mimic it so it could be anyone you wanted… Imagine the horror on a teenagers face when their AI sounds like mom wink

daemon

You know vibrating dildos have been around for decades,  and no one cried about how they objectified men.  Yet we finally start making sexual toys that appeal to men and it’s decried as sexual exploration and objectification of women….

I think what’s truly telling is that men desire the entire female form not just a disembodied organ like women have found desirable.  That tells volumes of who does the true objectification.

Ted Landau

I’m not a lawyer (I just play one on the Internet). That said…While the concept of this robot may be distasteful and sexist, and many people will object to it, I see no basis for it being illegal. Similar things (such as “inflatable dolls”) have been around for years with no legal challenge. This is just the next step.

Lee Dronick

  Sexbots, Gynoids, whatever you want to call them will arrive.

Have youse guys ever seen the movie Cherry 2000 [/]?

Lee Dronick

Just closing the italics tag

Lee Dronick

Let me see if that worked.

JustCause

@daemon I think women in the past have been put in a place where they were suppose to be ashamed of such things, it was “lady like”, hence some of the most popular vibrators were back or muscle massagers. I bet you give a woman (open to the possibilities) the option between a vibrator and a functional droid that can go down her, the droid comes in first wink

@Lee Dronick You are going back there with the Melanie Griffith movie reference, but that movie actually is a great example of the bots of the future and why the will be popular. Well, popular until they develop feelings and emotions and things get just as complicated…

Lee Dronick

  @Lee Dronick You are going back there with the Melanie Griffith movie reference

Well I could have gone back to Westworld   smile

daemon

I think women in the past have been put in a place where they were suppose to be ashamed of such things,

Really? And when was this? Last night? Last year? 1875?

You know why “back massagers” are popular sexual aides? Because they work. Hitachi, the most famous back massager used as a sexual aide, was designed and marketed by Hitachi as a back massager because that is what it was. It just happened that it was also really good as a sexual aide.

 

daemon

the option between a vibrator and a functional droid that can go down her, the droid comes in first

That’s pure speculation.

What we know is that sex toys like vibrators and dildos are currently, and in the last 50 years, extremely popular among women. Not among men.  Both men and women have had sexual aides available to them, and they have found vastly greater popularity among women than men.

 

JustCause

Pre-Clinton teen women, is in the past… From my perspective Clinton (post Reagan-Bush far right oppression rebound) was kinda the beginning of the newest sexual revolution, that opened up sooo many fun things.

http://jonmillward.com/blog/studies/down-the-rabbit-hole-analysis-1-million-sex-toy-sales/

JustCause

Although maybe we’re going to far down the rabbit hole :-D

JustCause

Dang no edit (to—> too)

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