In 1942, Isaac Asimov codified the first official version of the Three Laws of Robotics, which specified some fairly restrictive rules for artificially-created humanoids:
By 2050, says artificial-intelligence researcher David Levy, the law, at least in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will permit a robot to wed a human, something I suspect Isaac Asimov, or at least R. Daneel Olivaw, never seriously anticipated.
But Levy is quite serious:
In his [doctoral] thesis, "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners," Levy conjectures that robots will become so human-like in appearance, function and personality that many people will fall in love with them, have sex with them and even marry them.
He's written a book Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships (New York: Harper, 2007) in which he argues that humans already have emotional attachments to nonhumans: pets. It's a small step from Fido to, say, Sony's robot dog Aibo; how much farther is it to Helen O'Loy?
I'm not quite sure what I think about this. I can definitely identify a substantial ick factor right off the bat: it just seems wrong, and anyway how could I possibly be attracted to a bag of bolts? But then I think about the women who have caught my eye (and usually nothing else) over the years, and I wonder: were it possible to copy them, would I find the copies sufficiently similiar to t