Are we going to be swiping right on robots?
The porn industry is worth billions and its exponential growth – due to the proliferation of high-speed internet and a healthy dose of Viagra – shows no sign of slowing down. There is a race to develop realistic sexbots, who emerge from their packaging complete with perfectly warm silicone skin, and it’s only a matter of time before these robots are opening our doors and climbing into our beds.
How will the advent of sexbots change our relationship to sex and our relationships with each other? Will we program our robots to say no? To feel love and jealousy?
Join computer scientist and sex robot expert Kate Devlin for an intimate discussion about how technological advancements in robotics will affect gender, politics, sexuality and surveillance.
Chaired by Rob Brooks, Professor of Evolution at UNSW Sydney.
This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and is a part of the UNSW Grand Challenge: Living with 21st Century Technology.
The Roundhouse is located at UNSW Sydney's Kensington Campus, E6 on this map (PDF). You can be dropped off close to the Roundhouse north entrance (D5 on map). Vehicles need to arrive via High Street, Gate 2, follow the road to Third Avenue and turn onto 1st Ave West. The closest accessible parking is available in the Western Campus Car Park on Anzac Parade (G2 on map).
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Kate Devlin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College 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). She investigates how people interact with and react to technology in order to understand how emerging and future technologies will affect us and the society in which we live. Devlin has become a driving force in the field of intimacy and technology, running the UK's first sex tech hackathon in 2016. In short, she has become the face of sex robots – quite literally in the case of one miscaptioned tabloid photograph. She was probably the first person to say "sex robots" in the House of Lords – in an official capacity, at least. Her book on the subject, Turned On, was published in 2018.
Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolution, Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, and Academic Lead of the Grand Challenges Program at UNSW Sydney. He studies sexual reproduction and how it shapes the behaviour, diet, lifespan and ageing of animals, including human animals. He has won prizes both for his research and his popular writing, including the Eureka Prize and, for his first book – Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World (2011, NewSouth Books), the 2012 Queensland Literary Prize for Science Writing. He is currently fascinated by how interactions between evolutionary history and contemporary economics and culture shape human lives, societies and ideological beliefs.