AI News, Here's the deal with those robot pole dancers at CES 2018

Here's the deal with those robot pole dancers at CES 2018

Video: Humans prefer faulty robots over perfect ones

You may have read that the robot dancers offer a glimpse into a future of robot-human cohabitation, when even the bedroom isn't off limits for automation.

Or maybe you've read criticism that the strippers (people are calling them that, though they really don't shed clothing) are just the latest indication of the misogyny that's rampant in tech culture.

This critique seems especially fitting at the height of the #MeToo movement and in light of the uproar following the announcement of an all-male keynote lineup for the conference (the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs CES, responded with a muted mea culpa and added some women to the lineup).

The robot dancers are a peculiarly on-the-nose statement about our growing lust for technology, a tactless affirmation that many truly do wish to keep technology a boys' club, and a genius publicity move by a savvy off-Strip sex peddler.

Robot pole-dancers with CCTV cameras for heads perform in Las Vegas club during CES 2018

Them robots comin for EVERYBODY job pic.twitter.com/sHYVt88Zta “If people can get used to the idea that they can do whatever they want to it without responsibility then it leads to a very dangerous area.” The robots will be on show at the Las Vegas venue throughout this week, as CES 2018 runs nearby.  However, the show isn’t an official part of the technology conference, which has attracted criticism for a lack of gender diversity.  For the second year in a row, none of the keynote sessions at CES will be led by women.

The artist whose pole-dancing robots shocked CES is worried about where this is all going

And unlike many of the big tech gimmicks you'll hear about this week from CES, the robot pole-dancers aren't courtesy of a massive multibillion-dollar corporation.

Walker says he'll rent them out for corporate parties — usually 'full of men in shirts,' he says — and referred to the robots as his 'Christmas jingle,' which help pay the bills in a profession where money isn't always easy to come by.

But while pole-dancing robots might have been just a silly side effect of CES a few years ago, tech's recent grappling with the industry's obvious issues of sexism and gender disparity now put stripper robots in a very different light.

What robot strippers say about sexism, tech and the future

On a recent evening in Las Vegas during the CES technology show, robot strippers offered a window into technology's gender fault lines — not to mention our robot future.

But close up, they were clearly mannequins with surveillance-camera heads and abstractly sculpted feminine chests, buttocks and backs, shimmying and thrusting their boxy plastic hips.

The robots served a racy but utilitarian function by drawing gawkers to the club, much the way provocatively clad "booth babes"

And they offered a glimpse of futurism crossed with sex, the sort of thing previously provided by the porn expo that used to overlap with the final days of CES.

Several prominent venture capitalists likewise left their firms following accusations that they'd made unwanted sexual overtures to female entrepreneurs.

For instance, while the convention prohibits sexual harassment and other misbehavior, it doesn't lay out its policies in a formal code of conduct for attendees the way many other large tech gatherings do.

Neither has it ever instructed attendees, participants and hosts "to not have booth babes, strippers, objectified, sexualized women as part of the 'entertainment,'"

Tania Yuki, CEO of the social analytics firm Shareablee and a speaker at CES, said she doesn't think the show's organizers are purposely sexist, just trapped in status-quo thinking that worked for years.

But his sexualized androids also point to a future in which robots might not just take on many jobs now held by people, but are also likely to become companions — even intimate companions, a subject that squicks out many actual humans.

For instance, academics are already wrestling with the ethical implications of sexbots designed to look like children, not to mention practical questions such as whether they might deter actual pedophilia.

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