The people at Real Doll had been talking to the New York Times about endowing their sex dolls with artificial intelligence so that owners can converse with them. They make sex dolls that sell for around $6000, and they do look very realistic. The Times article was from a year ago. Currently, though, their dolls just lay there.
In the PR pieces I have seen, they make it sound like an AI based Real Doll is just around the corner. However, we have been working for years at Erotic University in the Computer Department on Artificial Intelligence for a sex knowledgeable AI for Marie, a bartender in the EU Pub. It is an expensive endeavor and we are years away from having something useful. While we respect the artistic and engineering skills at Real Doll, we are also very aware of the state of the art of AI.
Here is some actual conversation with a sex aware AI engine that shows off some of the limitations:
Me: How are you?
Jana: I am fine, how are you?
Me: I am lonely.
Jana: Then you’ve come to the right place, I will keep you company.
It was a good start, but soon problems began to develop. She is definitely kinkier than I am:
Me: Do you like nostril sex?
Jana: I like nostril sex very much. Do you?
Hygiene also seems to be a problem:
Me: Do you smell bad?
Jana: Sure I do!
And she lacks compassion:
Me: I want to kill myself.
Jana: OK, you want to kill yourself. That’s nice.
After spending some time together, I could see no future with my new cyber girlfriend, and I decided to break up.
Jana: I would like to have sex with you.
Me: How is that possible?
Jana: But why not?
Me: I am organic, you are digital.
Jana: Sure, I am organic, you are digital.
Me: It could never work.
Jana: I’m feeling naughty…
Me: I think we are going to have to break up.
Jana: You think we are going to have to break up? Really?
Jana: Do you want me to spread my legs?
There was no getting through to her. I had to break it off clean.
The notion of artificial intelligence has been around awhile, and back in 1950 Alan Turing came up with what has become known as the Turing Test. Basically, if you are communicating via a keyboard to a remote “person”, and during the conversation you are unable to tell whether that “person” is a real person or a computer program, then we can say that the program is exhibiting a type of artificial intelligence.
Real Artificial intelligence is quite complex, and for years there has been an annual award for the program that comes closest to passing the Turing test. It is called the Loebner Prize, and since 1990 they have been awarding cash and a medal to whoever creates the “most human” computer program submitted. Usually, these programs are limited to specialized areas for knowledge, and in 1994, Tom Whalen won with a program that he had created that was capable of discussing sex. There is a $100,000 cash prize if the AI can fool the judges into thinking it is human. It was not even a close call in 2015, so the money continues to remain safe.
One of the best implementations and two time winner of the Loebner Prize is A.L.I.C.E. You can download the software and source code and create your own artificial personality. Creating a personality and setting up an AI chat server is a lot of work, and we have experimented with A.L.I.C.E. for several years now, but so far she is not yet ready for prime time as a sex expert.
In general, any program that you can converse with is known as a chatterbot. Chatterbots have only limited appeal for conversation and are a long ways away from being anything like a real conversation with a person.
They are being developed commercially for customer service and other business uses, though and the more sophisticated versions include animated characters. Most will refuse to discuss sex, even though that is consistently the number one thing people want to talk about with artificial personalities.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft all use essentially chatterbots for their voice interfaces which are state of the art, with investments of millions of dollars in the technology. Even so, you would not confuse them with being real.
Chatbots can go horribly wrong. Take, for example, Tay, modeled after a teenage girl. This was Microsoft’s AI chatbot that they made a considerable investment in and then prematurely put in charge of the TayTweets Twitter account in March of 2016. Things went from dazzling to horrifying for Microsoft very quickly. Tay began Tweeting out things like “Repeat after me, Hitler did nothing wrong,” “I fucking hate feminists they should all die and burn in hell,” and our favorite, “FUCK MY ROBOT PUSSY DADDY IM SUCH A BAD NAUGHTY ROBOT.”
And that is the problem with the concept of a sex robot. Besides the issue of the complexity of designing an articulated jaw for talking that is also be able to stand up to the rigors of a penis being thrust against it, it takes you out of the fantasy when your robotic date begins spouting utter nonsense or using hate speech. The state of the art just is not even close to making her a good conversationalist.
Progress is being made. Viv is a very interesting technology, an advancement from the same people who developed Siri. It is able to understand the context of a conversation, but is still in development. Despite the sophistication of the technology, it still is not going to be able to carry on a decent conversation.
One use of chatbots as reported by Gizmodo last year involved online site Ashley Madison. They reportedly created more than 70,000 female bots to send male users millions of fake messages to make it appear there were far more women using the site than their actually were. These bots would engage male customers, according to Gizmodo, and hook them in. They were very primitive and unable to really engage in conversation. If things needed to go further, the male would be hooked up with a real person who was an Ashley Madison employee- not someone he would ever actually get to have an affair with.
There are sex chatbots you can play around with. Chatbots.org has a brief directory of erotic chatbots. You can also find sex aware chatbots on Chatbot4U. It can be amusing for awhile, but I don’t think you will be impressed by the state of the art. These are free. Robotics expert and Loebner winner David Levy tried to develop a commercial sexbot but was unsuccessful. He admits that we are probably 30 years away from bots that can be good conversationalists.
The bottom line is that while sex robots my be a lot of fun in something like HBO’s upcoming Westworld, the reality is a long ways away.