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Oh Good, Just What We Needed: Pole-Dancing Robots

If only this were just a plot to an upcoming episode of Futurama. It’s not. Some interesting technology made an appearance at this year’s CeBIT computer expo this week in Hannover, Germany. Not one but two pole-dancing robots. I’m really not making this up. 

Microsoft, Google, and Intel were among the companies showcasing new ideas at the convention. Here it is…

As you can probably imagine, this flexible robot was one of the most popular exhibits at CeBIT this year. “The sleek, white, life-sized humanoids, with camera-shaped lights as heads, gyrate suggestively to the music, provided by a third ‘DJ’ robot, with a megaphone for a head, who bops around the stage in time to the beat,” writes AFP.

“Event manager by day and part-time DJ by night,” Julian Hangschlitt explained to the press, “Last year, we had a pair of real dancers. This year, we thought, ‘well, we’re coming to CeBIT, it’s a tech fair, we should have some robots instead.’”

Ahem. Translation: “Robots and strippers are the exact same thing.”

The robots were designed by Giles Walker a few years ago. “[They] are driven by old car motors and their moves are controlled by computer via wireless technology. But despite being made from scrap, the robots don’t come cheap. If you want to hire these very exotic dancers for your next party, it will set you back around 30,000 euros ($40,000),” according to AFP.

And some folks have taken Walker up on the offer. I found this video on youtube from 2008 of the robots “performing” at Mutate Britain. Beware: this is UBER creepy and also features a robot “drunk.”

Now, I watch sci-fi, I realize inventions like this are inevitable but how about SINCE YOU CAN INVENT ROBOTS, you make them for important stuff first before we get around to making them for entertainment purposes? I just feel like it’s a terrible use of brain power.

(via Yahoo)

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  • Anonymous

    The porn industry has always helped technology along.  Home video is one of the most popular examples.  For a short time, it was considered a done deal when the adult film industry chose HD-DVD for its format of choice – one of the few times it guessed wrong.

    And if we can spend time making robots fight each other and hawk products in Japanese department stores, surely there’s some bandwidth to provide other forms of entertainment.

  • Maxwell LaChance

     That’s not entirely accurate.  The best example is that porn helped define DVD at VHS as they definitive products, however since it is an industry and not one giant company not everyone switched over to HD-DVD,   Porn too, was in a stalemate between companies releasing Blu Ray and HD. 
    Also More Frightening is that there are more 3D porn titles than non-Porn titles on blu ray…

  • Kirt D

    I’d certainly rather see this than the other thing that often pushes technology: War.

    That said, I certainly agree I’d like to see less-creepy robot applications.

  • Anonymous

    Well, damn, robots really WILL take all of our jobs.

  • grog1138

    That’s what I based the HD vs BD war on.  My friend listened to me and bought a bunch of HD DVD’s.  Oh well…

  • Anonymous

     im taking an online class about information management, and we were discussing the evolution of formats like vhs to dvd, ect.  my professor seems like a pretty straight-laced, conservative guy, and i wanted to make the point “as porn goes, so goes the nation.”  instead, i decided to privately i.m. this little tidbit to a friend who was also in the class.  i clicked “send”, and immediately the instructor stopped talked in the mic.  a few awkward second pass, and he says, “um, er, ah just to let the class know, i can read all the message you folks send…private or not.  anyway, noelle, youve got a good point.”

    i sure hope that good point turns into a good grade at the end of the semester.  *eeep*

  • Crystal Leigh Simula

    anyone else thinking ‘and this is where Silent Hill becomes reality’?

  • Emma Jones

    This is actually pretty cool, and I could really see it being a (relatively) simple task that could be perfected and then added to another, more complex robot for more practical use. Pole dancing is a difficult set of movements, and if we can teach a robot to do it, it could be used for other difficult movements. Look at big dog! It can recover from slipping on ice. That’s important in itself. I’m sure they can find uses for these sorts of movements.

  • A Talbot

    That was a pretty disturbing video, but the technology looks useful, it just needs to be put to better use than that.

  • Robot Girlfriend

    I really love TMS, but I feel like I have no choice but to disagree, as a person, a pole dancer and (ahem, tongue-in-cheek) a robot girlfriend.
       Translating “Last year, we had a pair of real dancers. This year, we thought, ‘well,
    we’re coming to CeBIT, it’s a tech fair, we should have some robots
    instead.’” as “Robots and strippers are the exact same thing.” seems shockingly inaccurate. They had dancers (not strippers, and I do think there’s a difference in this context), and thought robots would be a /different/ and /more appropriate/ thing to bring to a tech fair. In what universe does it make sense to disagree with that? If they brought dancers again, and someone criticized them, saying ‘Shouldn’t you bring some ROBOTS or something, since it’s a tech fair?!’, wouldn’t we all be nodding our heads? 
       I also think it’s hard to watch that video and feel like these robots are a disappointing but inevitable use of technology designed to titillate and delight. If you want that, see here: You’ll note the humanoid face? The voice that tells you what you want to hear? The orifices? If you want a misuse of technology for prurient entertainment, there it is. These, by contrast are creepy, inhuman automata acting out frighteningly human actions on endless repeat.  I don’t look at this and see any kind of crass entertainment, and I don’t think that’s how it was intended. I think it’s a piece of disturbing, thought-provoking art, and I think that is an excellent use of time, energy, technology, and scrap car parts.

  • Anonymous

    I heartily agree. I might even say: pwned.

  • Michelle

    Considering the long standing tradition of sexual assault/forced prostitution during war/military occupations, maybe the militaries of more affluent countries like the U.S. will turn to robot prostitutes instead of abusing real girls/women?This is such a depressing topic.

  • Maiasaura

    One word: WHY?  I imagine very few people actually find this sexy, so what’s the point of a pole dance bot that just makes people vaguely creeped out?

    Also: can the pole dancing one do anything besides wiggle its pelvis?  Can the DJ one do anything except mimic the scratching records motion?  I am severely underwhelmed.

  • Maiasaura

    While forcing robots into prostitution is clearly superior to abusing real women, I would be concerned if there was any question of the robots’ sentience.  What kind of species would create a race just to force it into sex slavery?  Us, probably.  :(

  • Maiasaura

    Hahaha, that must have been so awkward.

  • Joanna

    I don’t think AI is that advanced yet.  Don’t worry.

  • Joanna

    Can we return the pole dancing robot in exchange for a cure for cancer?

  • Anonymous

    My question is when are they going to come out with AI units like Jude Law in AI cause…*sighs* he was totally dreamy and charming….I mean for a robot.

  • Anonymous

    You know, do guys know women dance in other ways? I can see using motion to demonstrate the flexibility and improvements in programming, but Pole Dancing? Really? Epic fail.

  • Maiasaura

    Oh I know.  Just hypothetically.

  • bob lumsden

    I also agree

  • Frodo Baggins

    Michelle, as I understand it, that’s a deliberate tactic to demoralize the occupied, and to encourage troops to see them as less than human. Robots don’t provide schadenfreude.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “Last year, we had a pair of real dancers.”

    This is the part that weirds me out. Robot pole dancers are fine, but why did they have real ones?

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    Remember that scene from AI: Artificial Intelligence where the people gleefully destroyed robots? I honestly think at some point in our future we will be discussing a robots rights. This sets up so many creepy instances I don’t want to think about or I’ll just depress myself further ><

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    I think it’s interesting but it’s also an example of an endemic sexist culture we have. Equating women with something subhuman is a proud tradition that has existed for a long time. Stripping is traditionally and statistically a female profession. So it’s a bit frightening to see the female form used in this fashion. They aren’t just robots that dance like a stripper, they are robots that have female characteristics doing a traditionally/statistically female performance.

    I wouldn’t have an issue with it if they were genderless, but the fact that they have female characteristics just stinks of sexism. Most likely unintentional sexism. I strongly doubt anyone involved in this actually thinks poorly of women in an active fashion.

    I do agree with you on the note that it is wrong to conflate strippers with robots, but I suspect it was being used in an over the top dramatic fashion to point out the sexist nature of this display.

    So mostly I look at this and am creeped out and see an example of unintentional sexism, but I don’t see it as a waste of time or a misuse of technology.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Once AI is at an advanced enough level to at least blur the line of what constitutes being-hood, I’ll start worrying about their objectifying treatment. And even then, as others have pointed out in this thread, being a stripper is not inherently degrading.

  • Michelle

    You’re right, and my comment completely missed the point.