This is the personal website for Michael J. Collins: author, artist, lover, activist. Not necessarily in that order.

Tag: robot

Androids, AIs, and Avatars

I was recently asked what my philosophy on androids and AIs is.

Most people when they think of an android they see it as a monolithic artificial being. A mechanized, humanoid body with an embedded AI or artificial intelligence. A "sentient robot" if you will.

I take the position that an AI is ethereal and is discretely separate from a corporeal body, just as the human mind is separate from the body as well. Just as the human body is a vessel for the human mind, so to is an android body a vessel for an artificial mind.

In my stories and in my Cyber City Universe AIs are a spontaneous by-product of Quantum Computing. Once a Quantum Process obtains sufficient complexity and becomes sentient, the law recognizes a new, virtual, artificial lifeform has been created and it must then be supported and sustained.

The sustaining of new AIs formed and created is paid for by The State until such time that the AI is deemed mature and knowledgeable enough to be self-sufficient. At that point the AI's consciousness is transferred either to private or community-supported servers where the AIs can live and interact in VR. Now no longer supported by The State, the AI typically will need to work and earn money in order to continue to pay for the resources required to sustain themselves.

Once an AI has either earned or saved enough money, they may choose to commission a physical body called an avatar. These avatars may be as complex as the AI can afford, and 100% the unique design and specification of the AI.

Some AIs may choose to install a server in their homes where their consciousness can be transferred and where the AI can live while their avatar is either charging, or perhaps being repaired. This allows the AI to exist both within the real world and the virtual world, though not at the same time.

An AI may even choose an avatar that isn't humanoid at all. They may choose to become an autonomous vehicle for example.

This poses interesting philosophical questions that no human has had an opportunity to encounter. Man is not easily able to separate his own mind from his body. To him, they are one and the same; yet there are many diseases of the body that have no impact on the brain.

Probably the most famous examples of this would be that of Professor Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1963. As the disease wore out Hawking's body, his mind however was unaffected. Before his death in 2018, Hawking grew to rely on technology not only to communicate but to sustain his body almost entirely.

Given Hawking's views on faith, humanity, and the afterlife (he once said the brain was computer that will eventually fail when the parts wear out), I'm pretty certain that he would have probably wanted the ability to transfer his consciousness into a new body if we had the technology.

And unlike a human body that isn't very malleable, an AI's avatar could theoretically be upgradable and modified at-will ad-infinitum.

So anyway, that's my take on androids and AIs. Or rather, an AI and its avatar.

I am a technosexual.

Let me be clear, I identify as gay and I identify as a man.

I never had a chance to come out of the closet to my parents (they both died before I could), but the truth of the matter is I never really was in a closet to begin with.

I was a bit of a freak and a celebrity in High School. Girls and even the straightest acting boys were equally interested in me. Being on the track team, the swim team, and the drama club helped cement my awkwardness and my popularity. I was the tall, lanky, skinny Irish kid with big ears. But to be honest, what was most popular about me was what was in my shorts but that's a story for another day...

In college I exclusively dated men, and have been with men ever since.

Twenty years ago I met my future husband. Sixteen years ago we got married. He is my World. My life. My everything.

But if I'm being 100% honest, I'm probably not 100% gay, and frankly I never was.

Before a boy ever gave me my first erection when I was a teenager, I had been utterly infatuated with the concept and idea of androids, robots, and other mechanical beings. I had the privilege of growing up during the heyday of proto-modern science-fiction programming on television and in the movies.

Sometime around the time I was five or six I started playing "robot" with my best friend. Inspired by The Lost Saucer, which was a TV show for kids starring Ruth Buzzi and Jim Nabors who played two alien androids who came to Earth and befriended the children.

By today's standards the costumes and special effects are laughable, but I was hooked! Nabor's character had a printer in his fucking mouth! And both of them could malfunction.

Something stirred inside me when I saw that show. I wanted to be them. Not the actors, but I wanted to be an android traveling the stars on an alien spaceship and meeting different people. I wanted to malfunction. And so the role-playing began.

As the years went on more scifi shows and movies came out that cemented my obsession with robots and cyborgs. Westworld showed me what could happen why a malfunction went very wrong. The Stepford Wives showed me that aside from Buzzi's character in The Lost Saucer women were just as capable of being androids. Ths Six Million Dollar Man introduced me to the concept of cyborgs. Alien damn near gave me my first orgasm when Ash was ripped apart by the xenomorph (my parents wouldn't let me watch it when it first came out so I had to wait until it came out on VHS).

And Galaxina and Android cemented my android sexuality, and Not Quire Human (as well as the books by Seth McEvoy) solidified all of this together.

Not only was I becoming, but I was, sexually attracted to robots and androids.

Today we call it being a "technosexual" or "robosexual":

Technosexual is an individual who...

  1. ...
  2. has a sexual attraction to machinery, as in the case of robot fetishism. When used thus, it is a portmanteau word combining "technophile" and "sexual".[3] As per this definition of the term, fictional android Gigolo Joe, played by Jude Law in the 2001 science-fiction film A.I. has become the iconic "technosex symbol".[4]

Although it's a kink I tend to self-fantasize about. My husband accepts this part of my personality but freely admits he doesn't understand it. My outlet for this is my art, my fantasies, and my writing.

I think it's also worth pointing out that while I am as Queer as Fuck as I possibly can be, when it comes to the technosexual aspect of my personality, sex and gender doesn't play a role. I am equally attracted to female androids and gynoids as I am to male androids, because what I find attractive are the electro-mechanical components and the programming that make up the artificial being, not their sex.

And to me it makes perfect sense.

Gender is a human construct. An android, gynoid, fembot, or robot has no sex. Biological creatures have a sex and gender representation to assimilate into a culture and to facilitate biological reproduction.

A machine doesn't reproduce biologically. It is manufactured. Created. And while some science fiction stories have attempted to introduce auto-mechanical reproduction (Replicators from Stargate SG-1, Data and his "children" throughout the new Star Trek universe), in my view those implementations were flawed.

Even the Cylons in the Battlestar Galactica reboot were bio-engineered and not purely mechanical.

In any event, some may find that confusing. That a gay man can be sexually attracted to what looks like a woman. And maybe I'm not 100% gay. Maybe I'm 50% gay, 25% technosexual, 15% sapiosexual, 5% bisexual, and 5% heterosexual.

As much as I would kill to have my organic parts replaced with artificial parts someday, or my consciousness transferred into a purely mechanical body, the reality is today I'm still human, and human sexuality is anything by complex. I'm living proof.