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Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  223 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 18th 2018 by Bloomsbury Sigma (first published October 18th 2018)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  223 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Robots. Yes. How do I love robots? Let’s count the ways. Well, for the sake of brevity, maybe not, but let’s just say I really, really love robots…although not in the way some of the denizens of this book do. So while I’d love a robot best friend, a robot romantic and/or sexual partner isn’t something that spins my dreams around. In fact once I watched a program about men (and it’s nearly always men) who were trying to find (ok, buy) their perfect robotic mate and they were exactly the sad sack ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
found myself forcing myself to go through this because i kept waiting for it to get better and expecting some good information about a super interesting topic, but nope. i hated her voice and the (not funny) jokes, and more importantly i HATED how much history or context was involved in almost every single chapter (except the last few) that just felt so irrelevant. like, why was it necessary to go so in depth into what the romans or greeks did, to explain what AI/ML is and how it functions, and ...more
This book was a disappointment due to the fact that the primarily concerns of the author appear to be of (feminist) issues and impacts of new sex technologies of today and very near future, and not their creative destructive nature in the foreseeable future, the intention that the author reveals at the very end of the book. While I found interesting the archaeology of sex toys in the early parts of the book, there actually are only minimal discussions of the technological aspect of sex robots th ...more
Jay Gabler
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although Devlin muses on the philosophical implications of a far-distant future where artificial intelligence, embodied in sex robots among other appliances, will have advanced to functional sentience, she’s more concerned in the here and now. You can’t buy a fembot, but you can buy a vibrator that connects to your smartphone and features a camera at the end (“yes,” clarifies Devlin, “that end”). What if it was hacked? No, really.

I reviewed Turned On for The Tangential.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Could be a good overview of the topic for those who are brand new to it, but then again the topic itself isn't certain. Are we talking about sex toys through history, or are we talking about robots? This book doesn't seem to know exactly what it wants to explore or say, which is mirrored in the tone; too jovial feel academic, too statistical to be conversational. Some useful information and poignant questions, but it left me wanting, if you will.
Clark Hays
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
A quippy, personal tour of the world of sex dolls

Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots, by Kate Devlin, is a mostly pleasant but somewhat superficial romp through an interesting landscape of sex dolls and the (mostly) men who love them.

Devlin is a fine writer, and is clearly knowledgeable about the topic, but focuses on chronicling her personal journey of discovery, the sympathetic people she meets and the curious places she finds herself in — so get ready for lots of descriptions of factories and
Eoin Flynn
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written exactly how a book on sex robots should be, deeply informative and deeply irreverent.

Highly entertaining read full of wit and intelligence, covering all the aspects of sex robots, from their construction to AI to the implications for society.

There is a strong undercurrent of balanced, sex-positive, feminism running through the book. I loved that, but I suspect it may be a turn off for a lot of idiots... Although they're unlikely to pick up the book in the first place.

Towards the end o
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really excellent discussion of the issues from an expert. Smart, funny, informed and well-evidenced, with balanced and thoughtful arguments.
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(uni reading list)

genuinely such a fascinating and fun read!! highly highly recommend
Lauren Morgan
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
10/10, would recommend.
Mason Masters
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Gleaned some useful stuff while skimming but this is a good example of why women shouldn't be allowed to write non-fiction books. Yadda yadda feminism yadda yadda here's a lame anecdote, look at me!
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
When I first read the review for this book I got very excited. I'm interested in the many ways people engage in sex, and fascinated by the different creations out there for people's pleasure, so this seemed the perfect book to read. The first chapter pulled me in and got me ready to go, only to be followed by chapters discussing what robots are and what love is, sure that's important, but not what I want to know. It got a little better with the discussion of actual sex/companion robots, but afte ...more
Sep 24, 2019 added it
Well, not really impressed. Why? I didn’t learn anything new and felt there were times when something could have been shared in one paragraph vs. a chapter.
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A decent exploration of Sex Robots and some of the social consequences and potential of this technology. Kate Devlin comes at the approach with a sex positive open mind which I really appreciate. Some of her outside the box views on what Sex Robots could become are quite interesting and give a great perspective on the potential of this emerging field.

Good exploration of some origins of the idea of sex bots in fiction and what that means. Is it about the robot, the human, subservience or ... what
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots” explains how a “centuries-long fascination with the artificial lover endures today,” describing in thoughtful, relatable prose everything from Greek sexual practices (apparently when it came to homoerotic love, “intercrural sex—where one man pushes his penis between the recipient’s thighs—was the preferred form”) to the basics of machine learning to research showing how sex benefits the brain (“They found this out by making male rats have one-night stands. Th ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Turned On is an easy to read book that presents philosophical, ethical, technical, and historical ideas in an easy to understand format. The writers voice is also pleasing and really made the journey through her field of research as interesting as the title suggested.

Content covered included both speculative ideas on what the future of sex robots, including both humanoid looking ones, but also future sex tech with robotic like features, could be. It also provided societal considerations on the a
Diane Hernandez
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is literally about all three of those things but not necessarily all at one time.

The book begins with a look back at early sex toys. The most hard to forget is the sailor’s lady made of leather and fabric and shared around the ship, ahead of the Fleshlight by hundreds of years. It continues by covering automata, mechanical robots programmed to appear spontaneous. Eventually, it arrives at sex dolls, some of which can do robot appearing tricks but are closer to
Austin Collins
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dr. Devlin covers a lot of fascinating territory in this sprawling and ambitious book. She describes how the idea emerged from a conversation with philosophers in a pub, and Turned On reads very much like a long, thoughtful, slightly drunken conversation with a very, very smart person.

Turned On is at its best when Dr. Devlin is talking about her personal experiences running events and gatherings, defending her positions and doing her best to assemble data in a field where objective, quantifiabl

Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was really excited about a book about sexuality and technology from a feminist perspective, but I had to force myself to finish this one. It had a lot of great information in it, and also a lot of what felt like filler. It just wasn't very well paced or organized. The interviews were excellent, but most of them were with people I'd seen interviewed a thousand times as a person interested in sex and technology, and didn't ask any particularly hard-hitting questions. Certain chapters went on too ...more
Paul Franco
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just like there’s a site for everything on the web, there’s a doctoral dissertation for everything in the libraries of academia, or at least in the sometimes-fertile imagination of grad students. Here’s the proof, a book about sex robots, though the author would kill me if she saw me writing it so simply.
Right away in the intro there’s humor and self-awareness, which is a good harbinger. Actually, the title starts that with a pretty good pun. From there it delves into the ancient history of dild
Elliot Chalom
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Interesting, and while Devlin is good at story-telling, the book is a little bit all over the place. At one point she references 2007 book Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, which feels like a better attempt at what Devlin was trying to say (although of course outdated now). She also references Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications, which is probably the book I should have read. Part of my issue with Devlin's book is that it was less about sex and robots a ...more
Jonathan Karmel
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This isn't about toys, porn, or dolls, although all of that is in the book. This is about robots, similar to a therapeutic robot (see, e.g., Paro), or it could be like Alexa, Siri, or Cortana. Or a particular type of thing that is connected to the internet of things.

The book discusses philosophical and ethical issues that could be raised by creating sort of a 3D version of porn. Or maybe it's not porn, and it's for people who are looking for companionship or a "relationship" with an object. Ther
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone but it's not easy
Shelves: womens-studies
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Hardcover)
by Kate Devlin

I heard the au on a BBC world service program on Sat Oct 27 2018 on sex robots.
KD was part of a three way conversation which soon turned to comparing the idea of sex robot partners to sex toys and to porn, at which point both women got defensive and started to use the same memes that sex negative feminists use to claim there is something wrong with male sexuality. In my opinion that is mostly envy of male sexual autonomy. If they reall
Turned On: Science, Sex, and Robots by Kate Devlin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-October.

Devlin speaks of intimacy and sensuality in a technologically advanced world in a daring, cheeky, yet chirpy tone, perhaps like a person who spends a lot of time at cons. It refers back to Haile Liebermann’s Buzz, which I enjoyed quite a lot; yet, on their own, darts around time and topics far too quickly, so it’s more like a speedy catch-all that touches on numerous topics, rather than a true
Jeremy Meeks
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
3.5 stars. There is a lot of introductory material here that serves to inform those new to the topic. The book comes off as a kind of Hunter S Thompson piece as Devlin has been in the thick of sexbot-dom for the past few years. Not being a philosopher and ethicist the book struggles to define issues well at some points, coming off as contradictory at times. Overall an insightful read for those looking to know about sexbots and the myriad of issues that surround their development and use.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Let me be honest here - I chose to read the book mainly due to its titillating title. However, it turned out to be informative, witty, insightful and thought provoking and not at all gaudy. I liked the historical references and tangents along with her nuanced and well researched critiques of the ideas she disagrees with. You don't have to agree with her stance to like the book.
Gigi Engle
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Devlin breaks down the history of the sex robot, modern technological innovations, and the ethical implication of sex robots in a really digestible way. Definitely worth a read if you've ever been interested in learning more (or having sex with) a sex doll or robot.
Sarah Olson Michel
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I simply couldn't get enough of Devlin's warmth and witty writing! This is such a fantastically fascinating book.
John Williamson
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Kate Devlin's easy personal writing style. I've read some of the material she discusses previously, but it's good to get a woman's perspective for a change.
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Fine for starters in the subject(s) but if you’ve read/watched/listened to a few things, it’s all stuff you’ve probably heard before.
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