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Chinese factory builds AI sex dolls – in pictures

Chinese factory builds AI sex dolls – in pictures

Amid Beijing’s push to turn the country into an artificial intelligence powerhouse and embed the technology in all facets of life, some Chinese entrepreneurs are taking the expertise to a new frontier: sex dolls

One of China’s biggest sex doll makers has launched what it calls AI-powered dolls that it says can hold simple conversations and move their eyes and arms
A variety of moulds for different body shapes lie on the floor of the workshopDoll parts ready to be checked at the WMDoll factory in Zhongshan, Guangdong provinceCustomers can personalise their dolls by choosing various appearance options including height, hairstyle and eye colourMetal skeletons ready to be put in a mouldAI features on the dolls are still very basic: they can answer questions but cannot hold longer conversationsThe doll draws on vocabulary from a database supported by the Chinese firm BaiduThe factory has more than 200 full-time workers. All dolls are handmade and each one requires the input of at least five workersSome of the various designs of sex dolls available to buyThe company has sold around 20 AI dolls so far, priced at between 10,000 and 50,000 yuan, (around £1,100-£5,500)The figure is low compared to annual sales of around 20,000 non-AI dollsWorkers take a break for lunch on the factory floor. They produce around 2,000 dolls a monthCustomers can choose from dozens of different body shapes and from more than 260 different facesA male sex doll hangs in the warehouse. About 1% of the products made at the factory are male, and these are mostly bought by male customersOne of the team prepares a sex doll for a photoshoot for customers to view onlineDolls’ heads are put in boxes ready to ship to customers. The company hopes the AI dolls will eventually take off with overseas customers, including in the US. Exports account for 80% of its sales, and half of its overseas shipments go to the USThree sex dolls, all called Lucy, have their moving parts tested by remote controlThe firm admits improving the features has been difficult, partly because experts aren’t interested in putting much effort into developing AI technology for adult productsOf course we’re not expecting to make our AI dolls that human-like: after all, we’re just making adult products,’ said Liu Ding, a WMDoll product manager. ‘But we will surely add more advanced technologies … for example, making the limbs move more naturally.
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