By Rowan Pelling – 21 December, 2016 – The Telegraphy
Nothing says Christmas like a conference called “Love and Sex with Robots”. While many spent the week contemplating the birth of a baby two millennia ago, Goldsmiths University played host to the second international congress on congress with machines. One of the team said drily that it was great to see such a large number of journalists at a specialist academic gathering.
I can’t have been the only person to have shifted guiltily in my lecture theatre seat. There’s no doubt the topics under discussion were fascinating for anyone familiar with Blade Runner, Westworld, Humans and even Austin Powers, where human attraction to robots is a key theme. A study cited by one of the speakers reported that around 40 per cent of men would happily purchase a sex robot given half a chance.
At this point an American colleague looked up TrueCompanion.com (“The World’s First Sex Robot”) on her mobile and showed me a 10-grand example of their wares, who bore a startling resemblance to Melania Trump. Then Emma Yann Zhang, a computer science PhD student, took to the floor to demonstrate her “Kissinger” device, which transmits simulated lip-on-lip pressure to loved ones via a mobile phone app. You rather wonder what the not-entirely-peacenik Henry K makes of his smooching namesake.