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:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

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.

"It may sound a little weird, but it isn't," Levy said. "Love and sex with robots are inevitable."

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?

FembotI'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