Most of us know that robots could, and probably will, put us out of work. From robo-journalists to robot soldiers, to robot bartenders and waitresses, even though we like to think of ourselves as irreplaceable, few of us have guaranteed long-term job security when it comes to an artificially intelligent work force. Even so, I’ll admit I never thought about robots putting exotic dancers out of work. Sex workers and sex partners, sure, but pole dancers? This is a new one.
Last week Hanover, Germany, hosted CeBIT (Centrum für Büroautomation, Informationstechnologie und Telekommunikation), the world’s largest computer expo. German company Tobit Software had a “Smart Lounge” event in which they debuted some of their new robotic models — pole dancers. They’re not what I would have expected, especially giving that their heads look like LED projectors. I guess they made a conscious decision not to give these robot human-like faces or features, either because it would be too uncomfortable or because it might take attention away from the pelvic action. They have breasts though, because — well, probably because without them, it would be impossible to know whether these were “female” or “male” robots. I’m not sure audiences are ready for that.
I’ve seen women pole dance quite a few times, both on the screen and in real life. It’s actually a fairly popular fitness class and takes a lot more strength and muscle control than you might think, especially the upside-down maneuvers (which, to my knowledge, these robots didn’t perform). Anyway, there’s something particularly disconcerting about a grinding robot pelvis — more so than a human one. This is probably because people who pole dance are consciously and willingly putting their sexuality out there, but these robots have no sense of self, and thus no sexuality to speak of. So they’re emptily gyrating away for the… the what? Pleasure of the crowd?
Speaking of the crowd, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were in attendance — too bad the camera doesn’t show their reactions when the robots started their routines. So… who is the intended audience for these robots? I mean, I can see a market for sex bots, regardless of how distasteful or unethical one might think the idea is. But exotic dancers and/or strippers? I’m not sure who would shell out $40,000 for one of these, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about humans, it’s that someone will always pay ungodly amounts of money for something most of the rest of us think is insane. Let’s just hope there are no robotic pimps in the works.