WTF of the day

A Canadian inventor's new female android is like the perfect woman, designed by a sociopath in 1955.


Kate Harding
December 15, 2008 11:00PM (UTC)

We're a little late to this one, but it's too good (read: too freaky, disturbing and sexist) to skip. Meet Aiko, an anatomically correct female android built by Canadian inventor Le Trung. (In his basement. Seriously.) Aiko's loaded with cool technology -- her eyes can distinguish 300 faces per second, she can respond to touch, read newspapers, sort medications, provide weather reports and directions, speak 13,000 English and Japanese phrases, and make toast -- but never mind all that. In answer to the question everyone's asking, Trung told CTV: "Does she have breasts? I will say yes. Does she have nipples? I will say yes. Does she have a vagina? I will say yes. Are there sensors there? I will say yes. Do I sleep with her? No."

In fact, judging from a video of Aiko Trung posted to YouTube (below), he'd have a hard time sleeping with her if he wanted to; his prototype is currently programmed to slap anyone who tries to get fresh with her. Which just adds a whole other layer of creepiness, right there. As Vanessa at Feministing said, "I don't know what's more unsettling: the fact that she expresses pain and distress when you assault her, or the way inventor Le Trung dresses them." Check it out.

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So, what's the use of a Fembot you can't have sex with? Well, Trung mentions that she could read the newspaper to his grandma, whose eyesight is going, which is pretty sweet. And the technology he's created to make her sensitive to touch could potentially be used to create responsive artificial limbs for amputees, which would be awesome. But from there, it's all downhill. Trung suggests that Aiko's ability to answer simple questions would make her a good receptionist, for instance, and he hopes that future, more advanced versions could become in-home nurses. He also plans to teach Aiko to "dust, to clean toilets and to clean his ears with a Q-tip." (WTF?) Oh, yeah, and according to the Project Aiko FAQ, you can have sex with her!  "Aiko can be re-designed to simulate her having an orgasm. The software can be re-designed to 'play hard to get' or 'straight to the point.'" Oh, my word. Receptionist, caregiver, housekeeper, orgasmic sex partner who won't say no unless you'd like her to -- all without any of that annoying free will shit. It's the perfect woman, as designed by a sociopath in 1955.

I guess we all knew robot maids and robot sex slaves were coming, but the combination of the two in a size 00, long-haired, pink-frilly-bloused model -- and more to the point, the thought of the market for such a device -- is too much for me to take. I'd be all for a Roomba that also cleans toilets, and if banging an inanimate object is your thing, well, at least this one can get some "pleasure" out of it, too. But ... banging a souped-up Roomba? That's a little beyond the pale, and a little too much like way too many anti-woman jokes.

 


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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