Call Me Old-Fashioned . . .

With a book due in only a few days (my sequel to UNTAMED COWBOY), I had no business being side-tracked by a news headline on MSN.  But the words jumped out at me, and I just had to read more.

Sex and Marriage with Robots?  It could happen.

Now, I don’t write science fiction.  I don’t read it, either.  So I sure in blazes don’t think science fiction, and this whole concept boggles my mind.

 An artificial intelligence researcher in the Netherlands recently completed his robot-man.jpgPhD work and only a few days ago successfully defended his thesis on human-robot relationships.  He claims the idea is not new–in fact, it goes back to Greek mythology when Pygmalion fell in love with a statue who eventually came to life.  The researcher even goes so far as to envision the liberal state of Massachusetts could be the first to legalize human-robot marriages by the year 2050.

It seems the great strides we’rerobot-woman.jpg making in the sophistication of electronics are responsible.  Robots have come a long way from being mere machines in a factory.  They’re becoming more human-like. 

More important, they’re programmable.

 We can give them intelligence, make them attractive (see the picture on the right–a robot woman.  Does she look real or what?!) and infuse them with personalities.  We can make them talk.  We can make them love us.  Already, companies have been marketing life-like sex dolls.  Last year, the founder of a robotics research network predicted within five years, people will be having sex with robots by giving them vibrations and audio responses.  (Um, the robots, not the people.)

Of course, this opens up a whole new can of worms.

There are some within the human race who have difficulty forming normal relationships with the opposite sex.  Or even the same sex.  The robot could fill a need for that relationship.  And what about the sexually perverted?  The pedophile–give them a child robot?  Give someone their very own prostitute to reduce that vice, too?  What about couples already married the traditional way–and one partner develops an attachment to a robot?  Issues of jealousy?  Infidelity?

My favorite quote in the article from the artificial intelligence researcher, though, pertains to a marriage/relationship that welcomes the robot among them.  He speculates “Instead of a woman saying, ‘Darling, not tonight, I have a headache,’ she could say, ‘Darling, I have a headache, why not use your robot?”

Why not, indeed.

Those of us who write westerns are enamored from the code of honor cowboys live by, and their respect for women ranks near the top of the list.  A hundred years ago, they wouldn’t have been able to grasp the concept of a robot as a substitute for a living, breathing human being.

But would a love-starved cowboy, lonely from weeks on the trail, sleeping night after night out on the range, welcome such a device strapped to his horse to satisfy his need for female company?

Hmm.  What do you think?

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns. Her newest sweet historical romance, HARRIETT, was the launch book for the popular Cupids & Cowboys series, More books are coming! Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

26 thoughts on “Call Me Old-Fashioned . . .”

  1. I’m not much of a sci fi person either but I will admit that I adore the new Battlestar Galactica show. They do deal with this very issue…Humans and Cylons in relationships. Do the cylons have feelings? Is it all a manipulation?

    The cylons look like humans…and my favourite relationship is Helo and Sharon, because somehow despite it all, they make it work. Helo is really a hero’s hero.

  2. Oh, I’ve not heard of this really happening but the first thing that came to mind was this old movie I watched years ago. I think it was made for tv about this woman writer who moved to the woods to work on her novel and she bought this robot that looked like a man. At first she only programmed him for housework and things like that, until she got lonely one night and found out she could program him for other pleasures. She starts having a relationship with him, but her boyfriend, or an ex she’d been avoiding came to see her and the robot got jealous and possessive and tried to kill the guy. I can’t remember what happened though, it’s been years since I saw it.

    I don’t like the idea of it, but that’s just me. It’s creepy.

  3. Good morning, Donna! Thanks for stopping by!

    Yes, Taryn, creepy. But you know, if I step back from my personal feelings, I can see how a very lonely, maybe slightly disturbed (or a lot disturbed) person can really become attached to something programmed to say loving things about them.

    Think how some people become fixated with their pets. A lot of owners call themselves the pet’s mommy or daddy. And remember that lady (dang, her name escapes me–I can see her face in my mind. I think her name begins with an ‘E’) who left millions to her dog.

  4. I am not a lover of sci fi however this concept is kind of intriging. I wish i could program my husband to be the kind of man he was when i married him. Men tend to be self centered when they get older and selfish, (I’m 2 years older than him, he’s turning 40 this year) so the idea of a robot companion would have it’s benefits. I think it makes for a interesting story, I’d probably be in line to get one.

  5. Pam, I think the whole robot thing is creepy. I definitely don’t think a cowboy, lonely and tired or not, would resort to using a robot to satisfy his needs. Just can’t wrap my mind around the idea. I’ve seen movies though where humans become enamored of robots. Alfred Hitchcock filmed an episode that dealt with that and also Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. I’m sorry, it’s just plain creepy.

  6. Pam – I remember that movie with Yul Bryner as a robot gone wild in West World. That’s what I’m imagining happening when I read your post. I’m not ready for it — but I bet there’s a lot of uh, men who’d give it a try. 🙂 Frankly, robot or not, I wouldn’t want anyone touching my man and vice versa.

  7. What an intriguing post. Raises all sorts of possibilities, questions, etc. Wonder if you can program him to go out to and make a living while we stay home and write books.

  8. Okay, I gotta go with Linda on the ‘creepy’ thing, Pam. You’ve out done yourself.

    My only question;
    Being married to a robot would be different than being married to a man exactly how???

    KIDDING. My husband is a wonderful human being…

    Hoping that last line gets included if someone Googles me.

  9. Can I just say “Eeeeeeew”. Give me an alien over a robot 😉 I’ll take a Fay warrior from C.L. Wilson’s new paranormal/fantasy LORD OF THE FADING LANDS 🙂 If you ask me, all the gadetry on the market today is WHY people are less stimulated to relate to and approach actual people. Relationsihps are work and so much about today’s society is focused on instant gratification. It’s always easiest to worry about only pleasing ourselves. But…true joy is usually found in those things that take real time and effort 😉

  10. Pam, LOL on the topic. I think it’s something in the media that got a lot of attention ‘cuz it’s so out there. But it is kind of like the Body Snatchers premise. Interesting to talk about, but no one in their right mind would actually fall in love with one!

    Kate

  11. I’m also a fan of the Battlestar Galactica series and the Cylon premise makes for an interesting show. BUT, would I want this to become reality? No, no, no! As someone already said, I credit the computer with a lot of new ailments in our society–things that didn’t exist before. It seems to me that people no longer interact the way they used to, and I blame this on our tech driven society. Also, (and don’t throw anything) it’s my opinion that the proliferation of computers has dumbed us down. Seriously. Ask a random cashier to manually add up your purchases sometime when their computer is down. Ha! And how about getting a doctor appt. or your meds? Nope, not happening. Honestly, I expect in the future that the downfall of civilization will come about when terrorists or someone come up with the ultimate virus that won’t be stopped and brings the entire world to a screeching halt. Think about it. All of us are linked, all around the world.

    If I had my way, we’d roll the clock back, waaaay back. But that’s just me.

  12. Whew! My grandbaby is down for his nap, and now I can have some precious computer time.

    Wendy, you’re not alone in your thinking. They already have those Roombas, robot vacuum cleaners that zoom all over floors. Can’t see why one that picks up dirty socks can’t be done!!

    Lori, well, if you ever get a robot companion, do write and let us know how he’s working out for you!

  13. Linda, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I highly doubt a cowboy would want a mechanical companion for his pleasure.

    Charlene, I’m not a film expert like you are, so I didn’t know Yul did one about a robot, but it just goes to show the concept has been around awhile.

    Pat, great to hear from you. And you know, I think I like your suggestion best of all!! Especially for those of us who still have day jobs they just can’t seem to let go of!

  14. Mary, as always, you make me laugh right out loud!!

    Stacey, your perspective is right on. I’m one of those against video games for our kids. My memories of my brothers going out to play with plastic soldiers in the dirt while building forts out of cardboard boxes are much too vivid. Much better for young imaginations.

  15. Kate, what a nice surprise to see you here! Yes, like you said, no one in their ‘right’ mind – but what about those who are just a little off-kilter? Could be a robot is what makes ’em happy!

    Devon, always enjoy your posts, too. And I’m with ya, baby. Life was simpler a hundred years ago. But what would we do without our Internet?

  16. LOL! Pam, if I didn’t have internet, I’d probably be writing way more than I am now. Prior to getting a computer and plugging in, I wrote on an old manual Underwood and was waaay more prolific. Internet = distractions. :o)

  17. Hmmm. I heard about a study that had been made some years ago and according to this study people found humanlike robots creepy. They may look like human, but there is just something missing… Marriage with a robot? I don’t think so!

  18. That Roomba thing reminded me that I saw a Roomba style LAWN MOWER. Man I’d pay a fortune for that. Except you’d have to cage off your yard, right? So the little robot wouldn’t mow like…the flower bed and the neighbor’s pets and small children and….
    Still, I’d be willing to cage off my lawn for this baby. 😀 I hate to mow the lawn.

  19. Just so i won’t sound freaky i have to clarify. If I could program a man to treat me with respect and how i want to be treated do household chores men should do anyway and program him to hate sports and watch Paula Deens with me I say… sounds like a good idea!!

  20. Okay, that is just too creepy wierd for me to even contemplate. Give a real live human cowboy every time….evenif I have to pick up after him!

  21. Lori, I never thought your post made you sound freaky, so no worries.

    Mary, a Roomba lawn mower? No way!

    Estella, Minna and Connie, yep. Definitely an ick factor going here.

    But still, it made for fascinating reading and got us all to thinking about what the future holds. At least for some of us. Modern technology is an incredible thing. Let’s hope its power doesn’t get abused, eh?

    Thank you all for stopping by! Guess you’re old-fashioned, just like me!

  22. I really enjoy lots of Sci-Fi, but this sounds like the Stepford Wives which spooked me when first version came out in 1975. “Data” on Star Trek series was a great robot and Robin Williams played Bicentential Man, an android who lived 200 yrs & his relationships with 4 generations of one family. Do remember the Yul movie.
    I agree I’d like to see more males pick up after themselves; failed at that with my 2 sons; getting a 2nd chance with high school students.

    Patricia, LOVE the idea of freeing time to write. That’s why I want a housekeeper or cleaning service. (I’m reviewing “The House That Cleans Itself” by Mindy Starns Clark which shows how much I REALLY want/need something like that!! LOL)

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