How would you feel if a robot asked you to touch its butt? Maybe it sounds like a silly question, but as robots proliferate and anthropomorphize, it’s actually something that needs to be considered. So scientists at Stanford considered it. The study, to be presented soon but previewed by IEEE Spectrum, is entitled “Touching a Mechanical Body: Tactile Contact With Intimate Parts of a Human-Shaped Robot is Physiologically Arousing” — and really, the title says it all. The researchers sat volunteers at a table with a Nao humanoid robot reclining casually on it. They were told (by the robot, in fact) that it was a vocabulary exercise focusing on terms for body parts. Volunteers were told by the bot to, for instance, “touch my ear” using their dominant hand, while the non-dominant hand remained on a skin conductance sensor that loosely monitored their physical state. When asked to touch “high accessibility” areas — places we normally touch on other people, like shoulders and elbows — volunteers did so without hesitation or agitation. But “low accessibility” areas — this would be the robot’s butt and where its junk would be — produced delay and that arousal we talked about.
I’m not touching this issue any further today, except to say I coined the term technology relations (inspired by the term public relations with my claim of such coinage being simply the result of a quick Google search) to — drum roll — improve humanity’s relationship with technology. On a side note, aren’t sarcastic surprises the worst?
That originally meant improving how any person interacts with a user interface, so those interfaces would be streamlined for intuitively smoother interaction (perhaps including personality type settings to include people such as the commonly-frustrated-so-repeatedly-presses-the-same-button-a-lot in a risky effort to impossibly get the computer to process faster).
Uncertain about the mysterious future that we’re all viewing on this front (and back), technology relations (as it turns out) is a broad term reaching to touch all areas of all personality types reaching the successful evolution train (and/or tunnel, if you prefer).
Brutal as it may be, there’s no doubt about the oceanic offering of technological sexuality to come for us all.