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Robot sex: Next step from virtual reality

Posted on by Mike Evans

Machines could be having sex with one another within the next 30 years. It is thought that robots could "print out" their offspring. According to the Daily Mail (which is second only to the Bible for accurate commentary and prediction), robots could have sex together to produce superior offspring. The quoted artificial intelligence engineer and novelist George Zarkadakis, believes that robots could even breed with humans to create a new hybrid species. But, as the Mail helpfully indicates, "scientists warn there are ethical implications."

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. These frisky bicycles are raring to go despite the risks (photo Mike Evans)

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. These frisky bicycles are raring to go despite the risks (photo Mike Evans)

The idea of self-replicating machines has been around for quite a time. In 1949 a mathematician, Johann von Neumann made a case for machine replication. He called it the "universal constructor". Confusingly, this means that the medium of replication is, at the same time, the medium of storage of the instructions for the replication. Breathe deeply now.

Writing earlier in The Telegraph, a more sober broadsheet, Mr Zakrkadakis says:

Perhaps by exploring and learning about human evolution, intelligent machines will come to the conclusion that sex is the best way for them to evolve. Rather than self-replicating, like amoebas, they may opt to simulate sexual reproduction with two, or indeed innumerable, sexes.

Sex would defend them from computer viruses (just as biological sex may have evolved to defend organisms from parasitical attack), make them more robust and accelerate their evolution. Software engineers already use so-called “genetic algorithms” that mimic evolution.

This is all too much for me. It has been known for individuals to become amorously involved with inanimate objects such as cars with exaggerated exhaust pipes, but the idea of machines copulating with humans needs some digestion. I for one would be afraid of catching rust. 

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