[Paleopsych] Guardian: Sex and the single robot

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Thu Feb 3 20:05:30 UTC 2005

Sex and the single robot

    Jonathan Watts, East Asia correspondent
    Wednesday February 2, 2005

    Scientists have made them walk and talk. There are even robots that
    can run. But a South Korean professor is poised to take their
    development several steps further, and give cybersex new meaning.

    Kim Jong-Hwan, the director of the ITRC-Intelligent Robot Research
    Centre, has developed a series of artificial chromosomes that, he
    says, will allow robots to feel lusty, and could eventually lead to
    them reproducing. He says the software, which will be installed in a
    robot within the next three months, will give the machines the ability
    to feel, reason and desire.

    Kim, a leading authority on technology and ethics of robotics, said:
    "Christians may not like it, but we must consider this the origin of
    an artificial species. Until now, most researchers in this field have
    focused only on the functionality of the machines, but we think in
    terms of the essence of the creatures." That "essence" is a computer
    code, which determines a robot's propensity to "feel" happy, sad,
    angry, sleepy, hungry or afraid. Kim says this software is modelled on
    human DNA, though equivalent to a single strand of genetic code rather
    than the complex double helix of a real chromosome.

    Kim said: "Robots will have their own personalities and emotion and -
    as films like I Robot warn - that could be very dangerous for
    humanity. If we can provide a robot with good - soft - chromosomes,
    they may not be such a threat."

    Although he admits his ideas sound fantastic, Kim is no crank. In the
    mid-1990s, the professor launched the robot football world cup, which
    has since become one of the most popular means for robotics
    researchers to measure their progress against competitors from around
    the world.

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