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Cover for Turned On

Turned On

Science, Sex and Robots

Kate Devlin


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/20/2020)
MP3 CD (2/12/2019)


The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial intelligence raises very real concerns. Sexual activity is central to our very existence; it shapes how we think, how we act and how we live. With advances in technology come machines that may one day think independently. What will happen to us when we form close relationships with these intelligent systems?

Chapter by chapter, this book will build on the science and the philosophy surrounding our most intimate relationship with technology. The scene is set with the history of the artificial sexual companion, then goes on to explore the "modern" robot and the twentieth century sci-fi that promised us our own robot slaves. An explanation of artificial intelligence and the urge to create sentient machines delves into our own psychology: how does desire affect our own behavior, and can we become attached to an inanimate object? Can robots make society a better place? And what can go wrong?

Sex robots are here, and here to stay--and more are coming. This book explores how the emerging and future development of sexual companion robots might affect us, and our society. It explores the social changes arising from emerging technologies, and our relationships with the machines that may someday care for us and about us.

Praise For Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

". . . An immensely absorbing and provocative book on the past, present, and future of robosexuality." - Kirkus

"A curiously fascinating study." - Kirkus

"A highly readable romp through the history of computers, robots, and sex toys." - Science

"A fascinating introduction to the state of sex-tech." - Science

"A timely, vital treatise." - Wired

"This brilliant book is an intelligent, clear-eyed and often very funny deep dive into the history and future of love and machinery." - Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan

"After millennia of fornicating with foreign objects, the ultimate sex toy has finally arrived. Kate Devlin unpacks the very long, very dense history of the sex robot with style and wit. Spoiler alert: we haven't reached Westworld ... yet." - Christopher Trout, Editor-in-Chief, Engadget

"In Turned On, Kate Devlin – the thinking person's navigator to the complex and potentially life-enhancing terrain of the sex robot – looks at the history of AI-enhanced erotic toys, then ventures far beyond our wildest imaginings." - Rowan Pelling, Editor of The Amorist

Bloomsbury Sigma, 9781472950895, 288pp.

Publication Date: December 18, 2018

About the Author

Kate Devlin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Having begun her career as an archaeologist before moving into computer science, Devlin's research is in the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), investigating how people interact with and react to technology, to understand how emerging and future technologies will affect us and the society in which we live.

Two years ago, Kate began to explore the particular ways in which sex, gender and sexuality might be incorporated into cognitive systems such as sexual companion robots; having assembled a research team of leading academics to work on this topic, she has become a driving force in the field of artificial sexuality. In short, Kate has become the face of sex robots. She has written articles on the subject for New Scientist and the Guardian, appeared on BBC Radios 1–5, and made a number of TV appearances, along with TEDx talks and numerous other tech and philosophy events, receiving significant media coverage on the way. Kate recently achieved the ultimate accolade of being misquoted in the Daily Mail.