The Rise of Sex Robots and Pleasure Machines

HOLLYWOOD was right, robots are going to take over the world. But we might as well lie back and think of the invasion because it's going to be pleasurable, says a leading robot scientist.

Ever since Gort clomped down those alien stairs in "The Day The Earth Stood Still" in 1951, cinemas have been overrun by robots — sometimes cute, but mostly evil and mostly intent on taking over the world.

In the Bruce Willis film "Surrogates," which opens this week, a futuristic world operates by surrogate robots. Humans live in isolation while their "robot realities" interact.

And in the children's fantasy film "Shorts," currently screening, Mr Black's Black Box also has a rather evil agenda.

But if you listen to US robotics scientist Professor Rodney Brooks, robots of the future are more likely to be dominatrix than dominating.

He says the scientific pursuit of socially-aware robots — ones that operate according to senses in almost human-like form, as opposed to industrial and military robots — has been sidetracked by the hot button (so to speak) topic of sex with machines.

Australian-born Prof Brooks, former head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, said it was inevitable, and there was precedent, that such technology would be used for sexual purposes.

"Every technology that we've had, there has been a sexual driver of it," he said.

"I mean, that's certainly true of photographs in the 19th century; and home video players were really driven by sex; and of course the web has been a major source of sex.

"Yeah, there will be (sexbots) but it is not specific to robots per se."

Prof Brooks doesn't see the sexbots arriving any time soon.

"There are two versions of it, I suppose," he said.

"We accept that, yes, there will be robotic sex toys, remote presence sex where someone is controlling a robot and stuff.

"But there's also been some more outrageous stuff (predicted) — where people marry robots."

However not everyone thinks the idea of human-robot relations is so outrageous.

"At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot and it was great!' appear in a magazine like Cosmo, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy, who completed his PhD on the subject of human-robot relationships, told LiveScience.