Early robotics research held that increased realism should result in increased positivity of the interactions between people and humanoid robots. However, this turned out to be true only to a certain point, and researchers now recognize that human interactions with highly realistic humanoid robots are often marked by feelings of disgust, fear, anxiety, and distrust. This phenomenon is called the Uncanny Valley. In a world in which Artificial Companions are increasingly likely, and even desired, engineering humanoid robots that avoid the Uncanny Valley is of critical importance. This paper examines theories of the uncanny, and focuses on one in particular—that humans subconsciously appraise robots as potential sexual partners. Drawing from work on love, sexuality, and gender from a variety of fields, this paper speculates on possible futures in a world of intimate companionships between humans and machines.
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