AI News, Red-Hot Robots

Red-Hot Robots

Advertisement It’s been a whirlwind 5 months for Douglas Hines, the self-professed computer geek who—after wading in obscurity for two decades in the computer-systems trenches—created a media frenzy with Roxxxy, the world’s first sex robot.

And Hines has been fielding investor requests while simultaneously taking steps to expand and refine his product line with advanced facial animatronics, like blinking eyelids.

But it turns out there’s a big demand for this product, and we’re just swamped.” For US $7000 to $9000 (based on customization) and a $40 monthly fee for tech support, Roxxxy offers patrons five preprogrammed preferences—gay, bisexual, lesbian, straight, and sadomasochistic—with such monikers as Wild Wendy, Frigid Farrah, and S&M Susan.

Other motors simulate a heartbeat and responsive gestures.” Hines employed a voice-over artist to record the robot’s vocals—snoring, sleepy talk, and escalating orgasmic yelps—as well as a conversational mode programmed to discuss specific areas of interest.

He then spent 15 years developing system integration, phased-array radar, data mining, and artificial-intelligence software at nearby companies—most notably Bell Laboratories.

“Plus, a robot can’t be pirated like DVDs.” It took another four years, an undisclosed yet significant amount of his own money, and a staff of 19 machinists, sculptors, and welders to perfect the prototype.

Sex Robot Initially Designed as a Health Aid

'I thought this was actually going to be a business call,' says Douglas Hines when Discovery News Tech called him late last week.

The robot boasts artificial intelligence, speech recognition technology and a bevy of recorded phrases, making it able to, on some levels, converse with her mate.

She also has a personality-changer, an Internet connection to receive software and dialog updates, all for a price between $7,000 to $9,000.

With pre-orders of his invention reaching above 4,000 and a host of media attention in his corner, Hines took a break from his business calls to speak with Discovery News Tech about the robot's origins and his expectations for the project.

Douglas Hines: We came up with the concept of using a robot to help care for -- not to replace a nurse -- but help people who need extra care at home: invalids, Alzheimer's patients, etc.

But the robot would allow interaction with the patient as well as the technology to connect remotely and talk and care as needed.

Because Medicare wouldn't reimburse for the cost of it and because of concerns from a liability and insurance standpoint, we tabled that idea for the time being.

We looked for opportunities with areas that needed a niche or were lacking innovation or real development, and we saw this as an opportunity to really stand out.

There was a real opportunity to apply this technology into a new industry and breathe a lot of new life into it and create opportunity and a lot of added value.

I've done a lot of artificial intelligence research, and one of the primary patents around that technology is information matching.

The robotics is great, but the artificial intelligence by itself, which was carried over from the healthcare model, is a significant portion of the project.

Those are actual profiles that are stored as catchy names, but reflect people who are shy [Frigid Farrah], naive [Young Yoko], wild [Wild Wendy], experienced [Mature Martha] and adventurous [S&M Susan].

Roxxxy will always have her original, out-of-the-box personality and the five other built-in options, but people have the ability to create and modify their own online.

Tech

TECH ROXXXY, the World's First Life-Size Robot Girlfriend Published January 11, 2010 Fox News Facebook Twitter livefyre Email Douglas Hines, founder of True Companion, poses with a life-size rubber doll named Roxxxy during the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010.

The Roxxxy is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 120lbs, and 'has a full C cup and is ready for action,' according to Mr Hines, who was an artificial intelligence engineer at Bell Labs before starting TrueCompanion.

As technology fans convene on Las Vegas for the gadgetfest, they're also given the opportunity to visit AVN for a dose of the content that drives is often assumed to drive technology adoption.

The race to build the world’s first sex robot

The Realbotix room where she was assembled was lined with varnished pine surfaces covered with wires and circuit boards, and a 3D printer whirred in the corner, spitting out tiny, intricate parts that will be inserted beneath her PVC skull.

After his team had made their silicone and steel dolls as “human” as they could, the way ahead began to feel inevitable, irresistible: they would animate them, giving them personality and bringing them to life.

When it starts moving on its own – you’re not doing anything other than talking to it and or interacting with it in the right way – that becomes artificial intelligence.” It’s a project in which McMullen, a slim man in his 40s with thick-rimmed glasses, tattooed knuckles and sharp cheekbones, has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Voice and facial recognition software, motion-sensing technology and animatronic engineering can be combined to create dolls that can give you a warm, smiling welcome when you come home, entertain you with snappy conversation and always be available for sex.

It will be able to fill a niche that no other product in the sex industry currently can: by talking, learning and responding to her owner’s voice, Harmony is designed to be as much a substitute partner as a sex toy.

McMullen explained that getting a robot to walk is very expensive and uses a lot of energy: the famous Honda P2 robot, launched in 1996 as the world’s first independently walking humanoid, drained its jet pack-sized battery after only 15 minutes.

“What is your dream?” Harmony is what a certain type of man would consider a perfect companion: docile, submissive and built like a porn star “My primary objective is to be a good companion to you, to be a good partner and give you pleasure and wellbeing.

Above all else, I want to become the girl you have always dreamed about.” McMullen has designed Harmony to be what a certain type of man would consider the perfect companion: docile and submissive, built like a porn star and always sexually available.

The sex tech industry is less than a decade old but is estimated to already be worth $30bn, based on the market value of existing technologies such as smart sex toys that can be operated remotely, apps for finding sexual partners and virtual-reality porn.

A small-scale 2016 study by the University of Duisburg-Essen found that more than 40% of the 263 heterosexual men surveyed said they could imagine buying a sex robot for themselves now or in the next five years.

When a computer engineer named Douglas Hines lost a close friend in the 9/11 attacks, he struggled to cope with the idea that he would never be able to speak to him again and that his friend’s children, who were only toddlers at the time, would never get to know their father properly.

Hines was working as an AI engineer at the computer research facility Bell Labs in New Jersey, and he decided to take the software home and repurpose it, modelling his friend’s personality as a computer program that he could chat with whenever he liked, and that would preserve a version of him for his children.

“The hard part is to replicate personalities and provide that connection, that bond.” He has never considered that there could be something emotionally empty about replacing a human presence with circuitry and silicone.

What can be the downside of having a robot that’s there to hold your hand, literally and figuratively?” How Artificial Intelligence will change the world: a live event - Science Weekly podcast Read more After three years of work on the first prototype Roxxxy, Hines launched her at the 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, the most high-profile annual convention and trade show in the adult industry calendar, where porn stars, studio bosses and sex toy designers show off their latest products.

“Luckily guys,” said the popular American comedian Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, “there’s a button that turns that off.” Even though it was not quite what he had hoped for, the launch generated huge amounts of press for Hines, and Roxxxy made international news.

In 1994, aged 24, McMullen started sculpting idealised female forms in his garage at home, first as small figurines that he exhibited at local art shows and comic conventions.

(He called his company Abyss Creations so his models came up early in the alphabetised convention brochures.) Soon, he became preoccupied with the idea of creating a lifesize mannequin so realistic that it forced passersby to double-take.

It didn’t really sink in until a year into it when I realised there were a lot of people who were prepared to pay a lot of money for a very realistic doll.” McMullen changed his materials from latex to silicone so his dolls were more real to the touch: the skin was more elastic, and had friction similar to human skin.

Read more Twenty years after RealDoll’s official launch, Abyss Creations ships up to 600 models a year all over the world, priced from $4,400 (£3,400) for a small, basic version to $50,000 (£39,000) or more if the customer has specialist requirements.

They are the most sought-after and most well-known sex dolls in the world, used in fashion shoots for Dolce & Gabbana, and starring in a string of television dramas and movies – most famously as Ryan Gosling’s artificial companion in Lars and the Real Girl.

There’s an engineer who creates the robotic hardware that will interact with the doll’s internal computer, two computer scientists to handle the AI and coding, an app developer who is turning the code into a user-friendly interface, and a virtual reality expert.

And to denigrate it down to its simplest form of a sex object is similar to saying that about a woman.” McMullen already has plans to get a bigger facility and hire more people to make the second run.

Future models will have full body movement and internal sensors so you can make the robot simulate an orgasm if you trigger the appropriate sensors for a suitable length of time.

he following day, in an artist studio above a tattoo parlour in downtown Las Vegas, I met 31-year-old Roberto Cardenas, who was making a plaster cast of a naked woman.

In the studio, painted black from floor to ceiling and illuminated by humming halogen lights, he had the air of a mad professor, spreading a gloopy pink liquid casting gel called alginate all over the naked body of Farah Ali, a dancer from Las Vegas Spearmint Rhino.

She had responded to an ad he had placed on Craigslist asking for a “curvy” woman to be moulded for an art project (a customer had placed an order for a robot but wanted a fuller figure than the body types Cardenas had already moulded).

“Thanks and welcome to a new era in human-robot interaction.” He included a link to his website, which showed a rather blank-faced robot in a suit jacket with shoulder-pads, and a disturbing video of a moving metallic robot skeleton writhing in the missionary position, a bit like the final scene of the Terminator when the cyborg’s artificial skin has been burned away.

“If my RealDoll could cook, clean, and screw whenever I wanted, I’d never date again.” Many of the men in the forum said they had wives and girlfriends, who they compared unfavourably to their silicone doll mistresses.

Cardenas works on the robot every day while holding down a part-time job as a pharmacy technician to fund the robotics, learning engineering skills from his cousin, from books and from Google.

His ambition is to make fully functional humanoids that can model clothes and work supermarket checkouts, show guests to their rooms in hotels, do domestic chores and look after the sick and elderly.

Eva – the robot he claimed could put herself into more than 20 different sex positions, a robot with fully functional AI who “won’t complain and is ready 24/7” – was lying headless and footless on a folding table, her metal skeleton clearly visible under her silicone skin, which had thick, jagged seams.

He attached her head and plugged it into a laptop, but Eva would not perform for me: her sound files wouldn’t load, and her new limbs were too heavy for the existing motors, so she could barely move.

The front yard was filled with mannequins, silicone torsos, a pair of legs with purple painted toenails and a cardboard box filled with plaster casts of human heads.

On the left of the auditorium, near the exit, perched reporters who had flown in from across the globe to file sensationalised copy about any new developments in the world of sex robots.

The first congress was held in November 2014 in Madeira, and Levy tried to hold the second in Malaysia in 2015 but the Muslim country’s police banned it only days before the event, on the grounds that it was promoting “an unnatural culture”.

“We’re thinking about some really big issues.” Richardson claims that individuals will be able to buy the right to only care about themselves Many of the “big issues’ discussed at the two-day event were first raised in 2015 by De Montfort University’s Dr Kathleen Richardson, when she launched the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

An anthropologist and robot ethicist, Richardson claims that owning a sex robot is comparable to owning a slave: individuals will be able to buy the right to only care about themselves, human empathy will be eroded, and female bodies will be further objectified and commodified.

it’s a way for us to enter into our humanity with another human being.” She dismissed the idea that humanoids could reduce sexual exploitation and violence against sex workers, arguing that the growth of internet pornography shows how technology and the sex trade reinforce each other.

In March, Standard Innovation, the maker of a “smart vibrator” called the We-Vibe paid out a $3.75m settlement in a class action lawsuit after it was revealed that the company was collecting data on how often its 300,000 owners used the device, and at what intensity.

Matt McMullen says he’s helping the socially isolated, but once it becomes possible for a man to own a companion whose sole reason for existing is to give him pleasure, without the inconvenience of its own ambitions and needs, menstrual cycles and jealous passions, bathroom habits and in-laws, he may turn away from human relationships altogether.

“I could just as easily ask you is it ethically dubious to force my toaster to make my toast.” McMullen of course knows that the ethical debate is not about robot rights, but the human fallout from being able to buy a completely selfish relationship.

Either he is making a lifelike, idealised proxy girlfriend, a substitute woman that socially isolated men can connect with emotionally and physically – something he himself described as “not a toy” – or he is making an appliance, a sex object.

TrueCompanion Press

An Open Letter from the True Companion Management Team We absolutely agree with Laura Bates, campaigner and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, that “rape is not an act of sexual passion…” Roxxxy, our True Companion sex robot is simply not programmed to participate in a rape scenario and any suggestion that she does, is pure conjecture on the part of others.

When our sex robot, Roxxxy, is using her Frigid Farrah personality (note: she uses all of her personalities, rather than simply staying in one), she provides her opinion or feedback, just as any person would on a date.

My girlfriend's hot, but she has a built-in cooling system

In what is billed as a world first, a life-size robotic girlfriend complete with artificial intelligence and flesh-like synthetic skin was introduced to adoring fans at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas on Saturday.

We are trying to replicate a personality of a person.'' RELATED ARTICLES Porn studios lead the stampede into 3D TV At 170-centimetres tall and 54.43 kilograms, Roxxxy ''has a full C cup and is ready for action'', said Hines, who was an artificial intelligence engineer at Bell Laboratories before he started up TrueCompanion.

''I promised myself I would create a program to store his personality, and that became the foundation for Roxxxy True Companion.'' Hines sees the robot as a recreational innovation and an outlet for the shy, people with sexual dysfunction and those who want to experiment without risk.