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Sex Machines: Robots and Human Intimacy

Listen to Sex Machines: Robots and Human Intimacy

Photograph of Vanessa Toholka and Kate Devlin

Vanessa Toholka and Kate Devlin at the Wheeler Centre

Sex robots are an endless source of anxiety, titillation, humour and fascination in popular culture – from Westworld to the novels of Philip K Dick to the fembots in Austin Powers. But what does the real future of sex and artificial intelligence look like? And how will we navigate the ethical questions (and erotic possibilities!) of intimacy with androids?

Kate Devlin is a London-based computer scientist and a leading voice in sex robots research. She’s also the author of an insightful, optimistic and witty new book on the subject, Turned On: Science, Sex and RobotsIn this conversation with Vanessa Toholka, she talks through the philosophical and legal implications of emerging sex technologies – and discuss both the alarming and positive breakthroughs in the field. We need to ‘think outside the bots,’ Devlin has written, and focus more on the future of multi-sensory virtual experiences.


Portrait of Vanessa Toholka

Vanessa Toholka

Vanessa Toholka is a management consultant, with over fifteen years experience working in digital content and strategy.

Portrait of Kate Devlin

Kate Devlin

Kate Devlin is a writer and academic. She is Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London. A former archaeologist, with a PhD in computer science, Kate researches into how society interacts with and reacts to technological change and what we can learn from that in forecasting new and emerging tech, particularly our relationships with machines. Her book, Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Bloomsbury, 2018), examining the ethical and social implications of technology and intimacy, has received wide critical acclaim. Kate is a campaigner for equality for women in tech.

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