The #hashtag series is highlighting research across the university. Here Dr Trudy Barber talks about her research on Robot Love for #valentinesday

Love and sex with robots is trending. As part of my research investigations into sex, intimacy and technology,  I have found that there are studies involving artificial intelligent sex-bots who will tell you what sexual advances they like (or don’t like).  There has been outrage at robot brothels in the light of sex workers rights . There is innovation design in interchangeable body parts for fluid gender identity sex dolls and a ‘Kissinger’ that attaches to your mobile phone so you can feel the sensation of kissing from the person you are calling and kiss them back.  The datafication of sexual responses has caused furore with sex toys storing personal intimate data without the knowledge of their users. A woman has built her own robot and wants the rights to marry it, whilst in Saudi Arabia a robot called Sophia is given civilian rights. These stories keep the public interest whilst some serious study surrounding the design of intimacy is taking place.

There are digital friends whom you can talk to (if you get the App) and you can share your most intimate secrets with them. We are becoming so attached to our technology and communications media content, it appears that we can’t do without it. We are emotionally investing in digital conversations in The Cloud, and rely on artificial intelligence to tell us what we want to hear and what to do.  This reveals our vulnerability and sense of self as human beings as we reveal our fear of rejection and the consequences of being intimate with someone. So if you accidentally forget to send your loved one flowers, champagne and chocolate this Valentine’s Day you could definitely rely on you AI chat-bot  to do it for you; and if you are alone, your sex robot (who may be connected to the Internet in the future) may well have sorted a delivery of something nice for you.

Find out more about Dr Trudy Barber and her research.