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Chinese company promises ‘next generation’ sex robot with AI and sensor-based responses

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A Chinese sex robot and doll manufacturer has claimed that it will have the prototype of a “next generation” sex robot completed by summer 2024, featuring AI-powered language ability and sensor-assisted movement.

Evan Lee, CEO of Shenzhen-based [extremely NSFW] Starpery Technology, said that the new sex robot will react to its user’s voice by speaking back, and will be able to respond to touch both physically and vocally.

“We are developing a next generation sex doll that can interact vocally and physically with users, with prototypes expected by August this year,” Lee said. “Technological challenges remain, particularly in achieving realistic human interaction. While simple dialogue is easy, creating interactive responses involves complex model development by specialized software companies.”

While some sex robots on the market have vocal abilities, sometimes also powered by AI, these tend to be relatively basic. ‘Conversation’ with sex robots is often stilted and rarely progresses beyond the robot giving generic answers (or making generic sex noises).

Screenshot 2024 06 25 at 10.37.41

Considering the rapid developments in AI large language models (LLMs) recently, though, available technology is clearly sophisticated enough to go far beyond these capabilities. Lee did not reveal which LLM Starpery Technology is using for its next generation sex robot, but said that both AI and sensor technology would be utilized in it.

Lee said that by using AI and sensors around its body, the new sex robot “can react with both movements and speech, significantly enhancing user experience by focusing on emotional connection rather than just basic conversational abilities.”

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Following Lee’s comments, a Starpery Technology spokesperson told SEXTECHGUIDE that customers’ desire for deeper connections with sex robots was driving their push to come up with robots that communicate better.

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“As far as the current market is concerned, companionship is a major reason for doll lovers to choose dolls,” the spokesperson said. “Good human-doll interaction will bring users an excellent user experience, and we are working hard for this.”

Potentially tempering expectations somewhat, the spokesperson added: “Before the prototype comes out, we can only roughly introduce design intentions and our goals.”

It could be argued that sex robots are very much in need of a generational leap. While much of the media has touted the potential arrival of sophisticated, AI-powered sex robots into the hearts and bedrooms of mainstream society, this vision of the supposed near-future is yet to materialize.

Although there are no official statistics about how big the sex robot industry is, with most sex robots costing many thousands of dollars, it is believed to still be extremely niche. And while sex robot companies such as US-based RealDoll (CEO Matt McMullen picture below, on the left) make extremely lifelike-looking sex robots, their hefty weight and often stilted movement abilities, as well as its limited speech (if they have any at all) make them far from the walking, talking, acrobatically love-making humanoids depicted in sci-fi.

A man and a woman standing next to each other, along with an elderly robot resembling a RealDoll.

Starpery Technology had already worked on the weight problem, creating sex dolls that weigh around 29 kilograms: a manageable load. It remains to be seen if the vocal and physical reactive abilities touted by Lee for the new prototype will deliver, though. Perhaps the best that could be hoped for would be a sex robot that can “talk” in a manner as sophisticated as some of the best AI chatbots currently available – which theoretically shouldn’t be too difficult.

Meanwhile, an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post, which reported on the forthcoming sex robot prototype, sounded the alarm about Chinese sex robots and AI ethics.

Writer David Dodwell mentioned that the European Union recently passed the Artificial Intelligence Act, intended to “foster trustworthy AI in Europe and beyond, by ensuring that AI systems respect fundamental rights, safety and ethical principles and by addressing risks of very powerful and impactful AI models.”

Dodwell wrote: “Even the most basic thought experiment makes it clear that Starpery’s ambitions – and those of its competitors – cannot be fully achieved without such robots acquiring fundamentally human capabilities that will run into the EU’s ‘unacceptable risk’ category.”

He added: “As an important hub of the US $35 billion global sex toys industry, China is likely to find itself at the heart of the physical and ethical challenges that come with the rise in use of AI in a wide variety of industries. And given the US’ paranoid imaginativeness on what counts as a national security risk, I am sure there is someone in the Pentagon ready to explain why AI-empowered sex dolls threaten national security.”

Of course, AI ethics should indeed be at the forefront of the development of technology utilizing such abilities. But let’s see if this “next generation” Chinese sex robot can actually do more than moan, say “hello” and move its arms up and down a bit, before we get too concerned.

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