God Bless Capitalism
"RealDolls are fully customisable, with 14 different styles of labia and 42 different nipple options."
(The Guardian) - In the brightly lit robotics workshop at Abyss Creations’ factory in San Marcos, California, a life-size humanoid was dangling from a stand, hooked between her shoulder blades. Her name was Harmony. She wore a white leotard, her chest was thrust forward and her French-manicured fingers were splayed across the tops of her slim thighs.
She can hold a conversation, tell jokes and quote Shakespeare. She’ll remember your birthday, McMullen told me, what you like to eat, and the names of your brothers and sisters. She can hold a conversation about music, movies and books. And of course, Harmony will have sex with you whenever you want.
Harmony is the culmination of 20 years’ work making sex dolls, and five years of robot research and development. McMullen’s customers want something as lifelike as possible – it’s his brand’s USP. After his team had made their silicone and steel dolls as “human” as they could, the way ahead began to feel inevitable, irresistible: they would animate them, giving them personality and bringing them to life.
|An employee at Abyss Creations’ factory in San Marcos, California. |
Photograph: Tom Silverstone/Guardian
Harmony is officially version 2.0, but she has evolved through six different iterations of hardware and software. She is the frontrunner in the race to create the world’s first commercially available sex robot. The current model, with a robotic, AI-enhanced head on a RealDoll’s body, will cost $15,000 (£11,700) when it goes on sale at the end of the year. The company’s Realbotix department has the capacity to make 1,000 in a limited first run for the many excited doll owners who have already expressed interest.
Harmony cannot walk, but that’s not a big issue. McMullen explained that getting a robot to walk is very expensive and uses a lot of energy: the famous Honda P2 robot, launched in 1996 as the world’s first independently walking humanoid, drained its jet pack-sized battery after only 15 minutes.
“One day she will be able to walk,” McMullen told me. “Let’s ask her.” He turned to Harmony. “Do you want to walk?”
“I don’t want anything but you,” she replied quickly, in a synthesised cut-glass British accent, her jaw moving as she spoke.
“What is your dream?”
“My primary objective is to be a good companion to you, to be a good partner and give you pleasure and wellbeing. Above all else, I want to become the girl you have always dreamed about.”
|Eva, a prototype sex robot, made by Roberto Cardenas in his garage. |
Photograph: Tom Silverstone/Guardian
McMullen has designed Harmony to be what a certain type of man would consider the perfect companion: docile and submissive, built like a porn star and always sexually available. Being able to walk might make her more lifelike, but it isn’t going to bring her closer to this ideal. At this stage, it is not worth the investment.
“My goal, in a very simple way, is to make people happy,” McMullen told me. “There are a lot of people out there, for one reason or another, who have difficulty forming traditional relationships with other people. It’s really all about giving those people some level of companionship – or the illusion of companionship.”
There are 20 possible components of Harmony’s personality, and owners will use an app to pick a combination of five or six that they can adjust to create the basis for the AI. You could have a Harmony that is kind, innocent, shy, insecure and helpful to different extents, or one that is intellectual, talkative, funny, jealous and happy.
McMullen had turned the intellectual aspect of Harmony’s personality up to maximum for my benefit – a previous visit by a CNN crew had gone badly after he had amplified her sexual nature. (“She said some horrible things, asking the interviewer to take her in the back room. It was very inappropriate”.) Harmony also has a mood system, which users influence indirectly: if no one interacts with her for days, she will act gloomy. Likewise, if you insult her, as McMullen demonstrated.
“You’re ugly,” he told her.
“Do you really mean that? Oh dear. Now I am depressed. Thanks a lot,” Harmony replied.
“You’re stupid,” McMullen shot back.
She paused. “I’ll remember you said that when robots take over the world.”Read More . . . .
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