science commentary

Fish need bicycles after all, robot ethicists discover

Biology Rule #1: you deny biology, you go extinct

by T.J. Nelson

science commentary

T he last shoe has finally dropped. A ‘robot ethicist,’ which is a new thing among humans, has given the rest of us, purely by accident, the last piece we need to see where we may be headed.

Kathleen Richardson of De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, advocates for a Campaign Against Sex Robots, calling it prostitution. Robots have rights, or they will have them, if anybody ever invents one. “In what ways,” she writes, “are robots made and what uses are they put to and what can these practices tell us about gender, power, inequalities, race and class?”

Good question. If they're intelligent beings, they will have rights. But the real issue here, one suspects, is different: by their very existence, sex robots will challenge female power and status. Male and female power had been balanced for centuries, but The Pill and womens' entry into the workplace disrupted the balance, putting women at a severe disadvantage: they now not only had to raise children, they had to compete in the work environment and also advertise greater availability for mates.

Hence the sexual revolution: society's attempt to restore the balance. When groups are mutually interdependent, power automatically equalizes itself in ways that are hard to predict. Equal opportunity was achieved long ago, but some feminists were still not satisfied. And despite the gains in rights (as they saw them), the social changes had a terrible cost on ordinary women: the gender difference in life expectancy has decreased by 35.5% since 1970 and 37.2% since 1978, mainly due to smoking and increased stress from work (see figure). If the trend continues, by 2040 men will live longer than women.

Gender difference in life expectancy
Sex difference in life expectancy in United States, 1970–2010. Source: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC. Difference peaked in 1978 at 7.8; by 2010 it was 4.9.

I know a guy who was permanently blinded by molten metal in his early 20s while working in the Pittsburgh steel mills. My grandfather lived with severe pain for years from his manufacturing job. Women used to be exempt from this, but feminists have convinced them that the right to get shot in combat and tortured in POW camps will be their greatest achievement since Marie Curie stopped making sandwiches for her husband Pierre.

As Milo Yiannopoulos points out on Breitbart, feminism has also harmed the relationship between the sexes. In universities male professors always prop their office door open when a female student, sales person or lab assistant visits. (I do this myself.) A male supervisor never says anything that could be construed as ‘friendly’ to a female employee. Doctors of both sexes always make sure a witness is present when examining a patient of the opposite sex. These are the gifts of mistrust that feminists have bestowed upon the workplace.

Most of us cheered when women lost their passivity; but women have also lost much of what once made them special: a refined quality that is rare today, the existence of which feminists will not acknowledge and which they do not understand. Perhaps women copied our worst traits and lost their best ones. Hence the prospect of robots designed to provide a substitute. This is already starting to happen in Japan.

Some robot ethicists find this worrisome, not because of its effect on our birthrate, but because they perceive that it threatens the privileged status of women; yet it was the inevitable outcome of feminism's disruption of the interpersonal bonds that held society together. Feminists used to fantasize about a planet with no men. They labeled anyone who disagreed with them ‘misogynist.’ They cheered when a crazed woman sexually mutilated her husband in his sleep. They applauded when feminists destroyed the career of a Nobel-winning male cancer researcher for making an innocuous remark. Women cheered and joked about these acts of cruelty as if they were sporting events and their team had just scored.

For some reason, though, only guys think the idea of fembots is funny.

We're amused by the idea of a woman who can plug herself into your car and perform a thorough diagnostic, set the cylinder timing to within two microseconds, and order the correct part through her wireless 802.11a interface. A robot lady could cook your hot dogs by channeling electric current through two fingers, like we used to do with two forks[3] in college. And if she's equipped with the thermal infrared night vision option, what a guard dog she'd make! But feminists try to dissuade us by calling us names like sexist or misogynist, and accusing us (as Richardson does) of lacking empathy, like a dog owner hitting their dog with a rolled-up newspaper. They are terrified.

There's nothing novel about the idea of sexbots or about feminists' fear of them. Way back in 1975 a movie called The Stepford Wives reflected feminists' anxiety about losing their privileged status by being replaced by machines. Feminists interpreted their anxiety as dissatisfaction with their sexual and social role and tried to change it.

But rule #1 in biology is: if you deny biology, you go extinct. Whatever challenges it creates for civilization, male aggressiveness is essential for our survival. Fembots à la Bionic Woman[1] and sexbots à la Battlestar Galactica are the inevitable result of the failure of women to accept this reality. Once robots become real, some guys will try to seek from them what biological women steeped in ideology can no longer provide: companionship, understanding, and the ability to fix their computer. As the laws of biology meet the law of supply and demand all those fish could find there are precious few rusty bicycles to ride on.

Here is what they should really be worrying about: to avoid extinction in a Robochick-filled fantasy world, we would have to replace natural reproduction with in vitro reproduction: women with artificial incubators, and men with synthetic sperm.

What would be our fate if we continued down this path? Large, centrally controlled facilities run by government-licensed fertility centers? Humans selected by bureaucrats and enhanced genetically or artificially to better suit them to their designated task?

That would be a brave new world for us, but while the robots will also start out this way, engineers will soon recognize the vulnerability of centralized manufacturing and repair facilities. Robots will eventually have to ingest not just electricity, but also molecular-size components that can be assembled in tiny ‘cells’ and thence into functional organs.

The next logical step would be to add a micro-manufacturing facility to allow each robot to produce its own offspring. This would provide a tremendous survival advantage: robots would no longer need to be located near a repair shop or a factory, but could spread across the planet, or indeed the galaxy.

For this non-centralized scheme to work we would have to engineer some way of creating improved designs. Robot evolution would require what biologists, back in the days when life was biological, used to call mating; a mechanism would be needed to create new “genes” by taking advantage of transcriptional errors that would inevitably occur. If errors did not occur, they would need to be created algorithmically.

Humans becoming machines, machines becoming humans. It may sound like science fiction, but it could be our future. By chewing away at traditional sex roles, feminists and their ideological children, the gender activists, push us toward it.

Richardson adds that sex with robots is not safe. Indeed, think of sleeping with a 275-pound chick with a stainless steel / titanium alloy endoskeleton, a SuperSmart® personality that can think up jokes at 1500 teraflops per second, and perfect teeth capable of exerting a force of 85,000 pounds per square inch. (Yes, I'm a sucker for a good set of teeth, but any lady whose teeth can exert more than 40 or 50 megapascals of force is too risky for me [2].)

It gives new meaning to the famous line from Terminator about the artificial person who can't be bargained with, can't be reasoned with, and absolutely will not stop ... ever ... until you are dead. I think we all can see how that might be a problem.

Yet even a solid titanium chick would be safer to be around than a real one, who's liable at any moment to accuse you of rape, whack you over the head with a roller pin, or go crazy with a razor blade, all the while complaining about something called the ‘Patriarchy’ to her Internet comrades. Or she could divorce you and have a court automatically give her your house, your children, and a lifetime cut of your salary.

Then there's the long list of sexist insulting terms, what Martin Daubney at the Telegraph calls mansults, that feminists and others have invented to disparage, insult, and belittle men, especially white heterosexual ones. Keep it up, ladies; you're just driving up the price of my fembot stock.

After all this, who can blame guys for using their creative genius to seek an alternative? Can the humans ever pull themselves out of this mess? The cynic in me wants to snicker, and another part of me wants to say: Bring it on. But sexbots aren't the problem—they're a symptom.

[1] Not that dreadful Austin Powers movie, which came much later. The ones on Bionic Woman were amazing: able to leap from small buildings in a single bound ... speedier than a fasting bullet ... more loco than a powerful motive ... and very, very tall, or so they seemed to me as a little kid.

[2] Admittedly it also looks a little weird to specify it on dating sites.

[3] Don't try it, the electricity causes metal ions to flow from the forks into your hot dog and give it an awful metallic taste.

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