Artificial Intimacy: What happens when evolved mind and old-fashioned cultures encounter 21st Century technology


Join the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation and the IEEE Society for Social Implications in Technology (Australia Chapter) (IEEE SSIT) for the second session in the Challenges for a Cyber-Physical World online seminar series

New developments in robotics, virtual reality, and especially artificial intelligence (AI) are giving rise to a new type of technologies: the ‘artificial intimacies’. In this talk, evolutionary biologist and UNSW Scientia Professor Rob Brooks will consider some of the applications and implications of artificial intimacy, from matchmaking algorithms to relationships with virtual reality characters to robotic sex dolls. Professor Brooks will discuss the likelihood of sex robots and virtual reality sex becoming mainstream. He will pay particular attention to the many ways in which digital lovers might alter real-world sexual relationships and gender relations.

The Challenges for a Cyber-Physical World Seminar Series brings together interdisciplinary expertise to raise awareness on the issues unique to a society where the physical and the digital are increasingly intertwined. This series is intended for scholars and practitioners from law and other areas who are keen to learn about challenges in a cyber-physical world from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

  Date and Time




  • Date: 16 Sep 2021
  • Time: 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM
  • All times are (UTC+10:00) Sydney
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  • Co-sponsored by Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation, University of New South Wales


Professor Rob Brooks

Scientia Professor Rob Brooks is an evolutionary biologist who studies the conflicting interests that make sex and reproduction complicated. His two books and 180+ scientific papers on the behaviour and evolution of human and non-human animals have earned him prestigious fellowships and prizes, including the Australian Academy of Science’s Fenner Medal. In recent years, his lab have explored the ways in which sexual conflict and mating market dynamics influence behaviour online, especially on social media.

His popular writing explores the relevance of evolution to culture, economics and technology. His first book, Sex, Genes & Rock 'n' Roll won the Queensland Literary Award for Science Writing and the Eureka Prize for Science Communication. His latest book, Artificial Intimacy: Virtual friends, digital lovers and algorithmic matchmakers, (NewSouth in Aus/NZ; Columbia University Press in USA/Europe) concerns the near-future when our ancient, evolved minds and old-fashioned cultures encounter 21st Century robotics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.