Spambots Are The Immediate Ancestors Of Sex RobotsS

Have you ever been taken in by a spambot online? Perhaps chatted with a disembodied presence, thinking it was a real person and coming dangerously close to giving away personal info? If so, then you've helped to develop sex robots.

The kind of crude artificial intelligence that exists in something like the Slutbot, according to Peter Nowak, author of the new book Sex, Bombs and Burgers:

The Slutbot, also known as "CyberLover," ... made the rounds on dating websites in 2007. The "flirting robot" was a piece of software developed by Russian hackers that could establish relationships online with ten different people in just thirty minutes. The program, which could be configured into several versions ranging from "romantic lover" to "sexual predator," could carry on full conversations and convince people to reveal personal information by asking questions like, "Where can I send you a Valentine's Day card?" or "What's your date of birth? I'm planning a surprise for your birthday."

Security specialists said the artificial intelligence built into the software was good enough that victims had a tough time distinguishing the bot from a real suitor. "As a tool that can be used by hackers to conduct identity fraud, CyberLover demonstrates an unprecedented level of social engineering," one security analyst said. "Internet users today are generally aware of the dangers of opening suspicious attachments and visiting URLs, but CyberLover employs a new technique that is unheard of. That's what makes it particularly dangerous. It has been designed as a robot that lures victims automatically without human intervention."

Combine the Slutbot's software with hardware like the Real Doll, haptic technology, teledildonics and other recent breakthroughs, and you might have the makings of a real sex robot, Nowak argues. We could be just a year or two away from real sex robots coming on the market — and consumers will be crazy for them, he claims. As one roboticist tells Nowak: "People are willing to have sex with inflatable dolls, so initially anything that moves will be an improvement."

The Toronto Globe & Mail is running a series of excerpts from Nowak's new book about robots, and it's pretty fascinating stuff. [The Globe And Mail]