Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is literally about all three of those things but not necessarily all at one time.
The book begins with a look back at early sex toys. The most hard to forget is the sailor’s lady made of leather and fabric and shared around the ship, ahead of the Fleshlight by hundreds of years. It continues by covering automata, mechanical robots programmed to appear spontaneous. Eventually, it arrives at sex dolls, some of which can do robot appearing tricks but are closer to automata. The author explains the difficulty in even defining what a sex robot is. Does it have to appear human? Have at least some artificial intelligence?
I like books about new technology, which is why I decided to read this book. However, I learned more about the current status of sex robots on a one-hour premium cable after hours show. As the author states in the epilogue, it is difficult or impossible to write about a technology that is changing so quickly.
However, that is not to say this book doesn’t have some valuable information and insights. Who knew there are many sex doll brothels around the world? Sometime in 2018, the first “sex robot” brothel will open in Moscow. There are many ethical issues with the idea of sex robots. Should child-sized ones be banned? The UK has already banned childlike sex dolls. What would be the impact on women? Would it encourage objectification, or worse, rape? Would robot use in porn and prostitution result in less sex trafficking and exploitation?
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is very explicit and so is not recommended to sensitive readers. However, it is thought-provoking. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Bloomsbury Sigma and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.