Sex Robots - Leeds International Festival

Festival 19


Tuesday 01 May
18.00 — 21.30

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Sex Robots with Dr Kate Devlin

Header image credit:
Benita Marcussen

Where do Artificial Intelligence and Physicality join? Dr Kate Devlin, one of the UK’s foremost experts on human sexuality and technology, will walk us through the history of sex and tech, before explaining where AI, robotics, sex and love meet today.

At what stage do we begin to treat robots like humans? How long before a robot’s simulated empathy and emotion mirrors a human’s? At what stage do we encounter a line in the sand, in terms of appreciating the sentience of another – and when do we cross it?

Credit: Image credit: Benita Marcussen
Image credit: Benita Marcussen

A safe avenue? A perversion? The ethics of one-sided relationships

During the lecture, Dr Devlin will examine the ethical and social implications of a future where human computer interaction moves beyond the mouse and keyboard.

Predictably, the idea of sex robots is contentious. Should it be hailed as a blessing for those who struggle with human interaction and intimacy, or decried as a route to make such people only more isolated from the realities of human interaction, eroding human empathy and objectifying and commodifying sexualised bodies even more than they are currently?

A senior lecturer at Goldsmith’s, Dr Devlin specialises in computer-human interaction and can walk us through the initial ethical implications that arise from the idea of a one-sided, self-reflexive relationship in which your partner is submissive, and literally built to fit your every whim. She will help to explain the advancements, and how they can be beneficial, as well as outlining the initial philosophical question marks around agency.

Talk, then watch:

The talk will be followed, fittingly, by a screening of the critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated classic ‘Lars and The Real Girl’, a quirky comedy featuring Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer and “Bianca”, a ‘RealDoll’ with whom Gosling begins a romantic (yet not sexual) relationship.


Tuesday 1 May

18.00 — 21.30
£10 – £8 +BF
Hyde Park Picture House

Additional Information:

NB You may be required to produce proof of entitlement for concession tickets on collection

Available Seats : 272


Dr Kate Devlin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Coming from an Arts and Humanities background and now working in STEM, Kate investigates how people interact with and react to technologies, both past and future. She works in the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), focusing on cognition, sex, gender and sexuality. Kate is a campaigner for gender equality and is involved in national initiatives to improve opportunities for women in tech.