In love and sex, the voice is a decisive factor. It not only matters what is said, but also how it is said. Pitch, volume and personal expression are important to attract and retain potential partners. The same goes for sex robots and love dolls, and is true for chatbots and virtual assistants with sexual orientation as well. If you are not working with ordinary recordings, they all need artificial voices (if you decide to use voices at all). The synthetization of voices, or speech synthesis, has been an object of interest for centuries. Today, it is mostly realized with a text-to-speech system (TTS), an automaton that interprets and reads aloud. This system refers to text which is available for instance in a knowledge base or on a website. Different procedures have been established to adjust the artificial voice. A recently published article by Oliver Bendel examines how the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) can be used for sex robots and love servants. Existing tags, attributes and values are categorized in the present context and new ones are proposed to support the purpose of the special machines. In addition, a short ethical discussion takes place. The article “SSML for Sex Robots” is part of the new Springer book “Love and Sex with Robots“.
Fig.: The artificial voices of sex robots must be specially designed
PlayGround is a Spanish online magazine, founded in 2008, with a focus on culture, future and food. Astrid Otal asked the ethicist Oliver Bendel about the conference in London (“Love and Sex with Robots”) and in general about sex robots and love dolls. One issue was: “In love, a person can suffer. But in this case, can robots make us suffer sentimentally?” The reply to it: “Of course, they can make us suffer. By means of their body, body parts and limbs, and by means of their language capabilities. They can hurt us, they can kill us. They can offend us by using certain words and by telling the truth or the untruth. In my contribution for the conference proceedings, I ask this question: It is possible to be unfaithful to the human love partner with a sex robot, and can a man or a woman be jealous because of the robot’s other love affairs? We can imagine how suffering can emerge in this context … But robots can also make us happy. Some years ago, we developed the GOODBOT, a chatbot which can detect problems of the user and escalate on several levels. On the highest level, it hands over an emergency number. It knows its limits.” Some statements of the interview have been incorporated in the article “Última parada: después del sexo con autómatas, casarse con un Robot” (February 11, 2017) which is available via www.playgroundmag.net/futuro/sexo-robots-matrimonio-legal-2050-realdolls_0_1918608121.html.
Fig.: Is the bitch a robot or not?
Inverse is an American online magazine, launched by Dave Nemetz, co-founder of Bleacher Report. It is based in San Francisco, California. According to the New York Observer, Inverse “aims to capture the millennial dude market with quirky takes on subjects like tech, games (video and board) and space” (Observer, October 20, 2015). Gabe Bergado asked the ethicist Oliver Bendel about sex robots and love dolls. One issue was: “Why are more companies and people becoming more interested in sex robots?” The reply to it: “Companies want to earn money. But I don’t think that this is a big market. Sex robots will remain a niche product. But, of course, sex toys are popular, und together with virtual and mixed reality, this could be the biggest thing next year. Some people and media are sensation-seeking. That’s why they are interested in sex robots and in men and women who fall in love with machines.” Another question was: “How should governments be reacting to the development of sex robots? Should there be regulations?” The answer is short and clear again: “Sex robots will remain a niche product, and I don’t think there will be many needs for regulation. Adults can do whatever they want to do, provided that they do not affect or disturb others in extreme ways. But I’m against child-like robots in brothels. Perhaps this should be banned.” The ethicist concluded with respect to sex robots: “It is interesting for a philosopher to research them and our relationship with them.” The final version of the interview was published in the article “Sex Robots Can’t Automate Emotional Intimacy” (January 28, 2017) which is available via www.inverse.com/article/27001-sex-robots-virtual-reality-engineering-oliver-mendel-interview.
Fig.: This could be a love doll