Kate Devlin

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Kate Devlin
Adela Katharine Devlin

Northern Ireland
Alma mater[1]
Known forComputer science, artificial intelligence, archaeology
Scientific career
InstitutionsKing’s College London

Kate Devlin, born Adela Katharine Devlin is a Northern Irish computer scientist specialising in Artificial intelligence and Human–computer interaction (HCI). She is best known for her work on human sexuality and robotics and was co-chair of the annual Love and Sex With Robots convention in 2016 held in London[2] and was founder of the UK's first ever sex tech hackathon[3] held in 2016 at Goldsmiths, University of London.[4] She is Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London[5] and is the author of Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots in addition to several academic papers.[1]


Devlin began her university career in the humanities and graduated from Queen's University Belfast in 1997 with a BA (Honours) degree in archaeology. After deciding that archaeology presented her with limited future prospects, she returned to Queen's University to study computer science, and in 1999 she was awarded an MSc in that subject. She then moved to The University of Bristol, where in 2004 she was awarded a PhD in computer science.[1][6]

Devlin became a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London and a departmental Senior Tutor.[7] and on 1 September 2018, Devlin became the Senior Lecturer in Social & Cultural AI in the Digital Humanities department at King's College London.[8]

Academic career[edit]

In 2003 Devlin began researching computer graphics in archaeology at Bristol University, rendering 3D computer models of archaeological sites such as at Pompeii with attention to realistically rendering lighting effects caused by the spectral composition of light sources available at the time period in history. This involved experimental archaeology, recreating light sources and analysing the spectral range for each type of candle or fuel lamp.[9]

From 2007 Devlin worked in the field of human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence at Goldsmiths, which included programming, graphics and animation.[1][6] In 2018 she became Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London.[10]

In 2015 Devlin spoke to news broadcasters in the UK about institutionalised sexism within science research and academia after comments made by Sir Tim Hunt regarding women scientists working in mixed laboratories. While Devlin, along with many other commentators, acknowledged the comments to be 'banter' she expressed the frustration that many women have with sexism in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics[11] and jokingly tweeted that she couldn't chair a departmental meeting because she was "too busy swooning and crying."[12] Devlin also speaks publicly and writes to encourage more women to pursue technology careers.[13][14]

In 2016 Devlin co-chaired the International Congress on Love and Sex With Robots held in London, UK, an annual conference held since 2014, co-founded by Adrian David Cheok and David Levy, writer of the book of the same name, Love and Sex with Robots.[15][16]

Also, in 2016, Devlin founded the first UK sex technology (sex tech) hackathon, a conference where scientists, students, academics and other people in the sex tech industry meet to pool ideas and build projects in the field of sex and intimacy with artificial partners.[17]

In 2016 Devlin appeared several times in the media debating ethical issues concerning sex robots with Kathleen Richardson, fellow of the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University, and founder of Campaign Against Sex Robots which seeks to ban sex robots on the grounds that they encourage isolation, perpetuate the idea of women as property and are dehumanising.[18][19] Devlin has argued that not only would a ban be impractical, but as technology develops more women need to be involved to diversify a field which is dominated by men creating products for heterosexual men. She also points out that the technology can be used as therapy, citing the use of artificial intelligence to treat anxiety,[18] and the possible application towards understanding the psychology of sex offenders.[20]

Devlin frequently speaks at conferences and her areas of scientific interest include: the social and ethical problems of integrating artificial intelligence into sexual experience with computer systems and robots,[21][6] the human and social consequences of AI as it becomes more sophisticated,[22] and improving human sexual relationships by moving away from a "hetero-normative male view" of sex and intimacy using sex toys, robots and computer software.[23][24] She has raised issues which she believes need addressing as this technology develops. These concerns include: if robots gain self-awareness, will they be able to give informed consent and be entitled to make choices regarding their own desires, and should they be supplied to the elderly in residential care facilities for companionship and sex.[25][23]

Devlin was named one of London's most influential people of 2017 by the Progress 1000, London Evening Standard.[26]

In 2018 Devlin released her book, Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots. The book began as research into the technological development of sex robots and explores the relationship between technology and intimacy.[27] Engineering & Technology (E&T) magazine described the book as "a creative, optimistic, open-minded exploration of sex robots", particularly in its discussion on current sex technology.[28] The Times described it as "illuminating, witty and written with a wide open mind".[29]



  • Paradata and Transparency in Virtual Heritage, contributor, 2012[30]
  • Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots. Bloomsbury Sigma, 2018
  • Love and sex with robots : second International Conference, LSR 2016, London, UK, 19–20 December 2016, Revised selected papers[31]

Selected papers[edit]

  • Realistic visualisation of the Pompeii frescoes (2001) (with Alan Chalmers)[32]
  • Dynamic range reduction inspired by photoreceptor physiology (2005) (with Erik Reinhard)[33][34]
  • Current Practice in Digital Imaging in UK Archaeology (2006) (with Alice Chuter)[35]
  • Visual calibration and correction for ambient illumination (2006) (with Alan Chalmers, Erik Reinhard)[36]
  • Investigating Sensorimotor Contingencies in the Enactive Interface (2014) (with Janet K. Gibbs)[37]
  • One-Touch Pose Detection on Touchscreen Smartphones (2015) (with Karsten Seipp)[38]


Devlin has written for the New Scientist,[39] The Conversation[20][14] and has presented a TEDx talk entitled Sex Robots.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Devlin has spoken publicly about living with bipolar disorder and epilepsy and how stress can affect both her academic and professional life, as well as how important it is to bring mental health issues into public debate to reduce the stigma attached.[41][42]

Devlin is open about her consensually non-monogamous relationships and has written about her experiences of polyamory.[43]

She is also interested in, and has researched, the life story of Adela Breton, the Victorian archaeologist and explorer, and contributed to the Raising Horizons exhibition of 'trowel-blazing' women throughout the history of archaeology and geology.[44][45]

She is divorced and has a daughter.[41][43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Dr Kate Devlin". Goldsmiths, University of London. Archived from the original on 13 October 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  2. ^ "LSR 2017". Love and Sex With Robots. Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Sex Tech Hack II – The Secong Coming". Hacksmiths. Goldsmiths Tech Society. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  4. ^ Fay, Joe. "Will AI lead to the rise of the love machines?". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  5. ^ "King's College London, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Digital Humanities: staff". Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b c TEDx Talks. "Sex Robots. Kate Devlin. TEDxWarwick". Retrieved 22 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ "Dr Kate Devlin". doc.gold.ac.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Kate Devlin - Research Portal, King's College, London". kclpure.kcl.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 17 August 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Seeing the light". University of Bristol. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  10. ^ "2019 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AWARDS". Index on censorship. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Nobel scientist Tim Hunt criticised for chauvinist remarks". Channel Four News. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  12. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (11 June 2015). "Women Respond to Nobel Laureate's 'Trouble With Girls'". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Women in technology". Inspire. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  14. ^ a b Devlin, Kate (13 September 2013). "Titstare proves there are still too many dicks in tech". The Conversation. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  15. ^ Wiseman, Eva (13 December 2015). "Sex, love and robots: is this the end of intimacy?". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  16. ^ Kleeman, Jenny (27 April 2017). "The race to build the world's first sex robot". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  17. ^ Ferreira, Elsa. "At the first Sex Tech Hack, a hackathon on sexuality in London". Makery. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  18. ^ a b Wordsworth, Matt (24 November 2016). "Lateline: Panel, Kathleen Richardson and Kate Devlin". ABC News. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  19. ^ Wosk, Julie (20 December 2016). "Love and Sex With Robots Conference Sparks Controversy". HuffPost. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  20. ^ a b "In defence of sex machines: why trying to ban sex robots is wrong". The Conversation. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  21. ^ Fay, Joe. "Reg Lecture: Sex, AI, Robots and You". The Register. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Will Machines Rule the World?". London School of Economics. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  23. ^ a b Rutherford, Adam. "Rise of the Robots: Series one". BBC. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  24. ^ Scholefield, Antony (11 December 2015). "Sex Robots Will Help Human Sexuality Evolve". Virtual Futures. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  25. ^ Reisz, Matthew (23 December 2016). "The sexbots are coming: Scholars reflect on ethics and mechanics of a possible 'sex tech' future". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  26. ^ "The Progress 1000". London Evening Standard. 19 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  27. ^ Law, Katie (11 October 2018). "King's College's Kate Devlin on the future and ethics of the sex tech revolution". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  28. ^ Lamb, Hilary (November 2018). "Book review: 'Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots' by Kate Devlin". Engineering and Technology. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  29. ^ Annesley, Jackie (11 November 2018). "Review: Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots by Kate Devlin — illuminating and written with a wide open mind". The Times. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  30. ^ Bentkowska-Kafe, Anna; Denard, Hugh, eds. (2012). Paradata and Transparency in Virtual Heritage. Ashgate. pp. 125–134. ISBN 9780754675839. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  31. ^ Cheok, Adrian David; Devlin, Kate; Levy, David (2017). Love and sex with robots : second International Conference, LSR 2016, London, UK, December 19–20, 2016, Revised selected papers. Switzerland: Springer. ISBN 9783319577388.
  32. ^ Devlin, Kate; Chalmers, Alan (2001). "Realistic visualisation of the Pompeii frescoes". Proceedings of the 1st international conference on Computer graphics, virtual reality and visualisation. pp. 43–48. doi:10.1145/513867.513878. ISBN 9781581134469. S2CID 16420507.
  33. ^ Reinhard, Erik; Devlin, Kate (2005). "Dynamic range reduction inspired by photoreceptor physiology". IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. 11 (1): 13–24. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2005.9. PMID 15631125. S2CID 950287.
  34. ^ "Dynamic range reduction" (PDF). erikreinhard.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 December 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  35. ^ Devlin, Kate; Chuter, Alice (2006). Current Practice in Digital Imaging in UK Archaeology. pp. 187–193. doi:10.2312/VAST/VAST06/187-193. ISBN 9783905673425. S2CID 9628992. {{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)
  36. ^ Chambers, Alan; Devlin, Kate; Reinhard, Erik (2006). "Visual calibration and correction for ambient illumination". ACM Transactions on Applied Perception. 3 (4): 429–452. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/1190036.1190042. S2CID 12787292.
  37. ^ Devlin, Kate; Gibbs, Janet K. (2014). "Investigating Sensorimotor Contingencies in the Enactive Interface". Contemporary Sensorimotor Theory. Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics. Vol. 15. pp. 189–200. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05107-9_13. ISBN 978-3-319-05106-2.
  38. ^ Devlin, Kate; Seipp, Karsten (2015). "One-Touch Pose Detection on Touchscreen Smartphones". Proceedings of the 2015 International Conference on Interactive Tabletops & Surfaces - ITS '15 (PDF). Vol. ITS15. pp. 51–54. doi:10.1145/2817721.2817739. ISBN 9781450338998. S2CID 13167279.
  39. ^ "Why shows like Westworld only show dark side of our robot future". New Scientist. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  40. ^ Devlin, Kate. "Sex Robots". Retrieved 14 June 2017 – via YouTube.
  41. ^ a b Murray, Jenni. "Staying Sane: Healthy Minds in a Mad World". BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  42. ^ Devlin, Kate (15 May 2013). "Academic life and mental illness is not a smooth ride but it can be done (blog post)". Time to change. Archived from the original on 4 December 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  43. ^ a b Devlin, Kate (10 June 2017). "I have other men. He has other women. We're both happy". The Times. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  44. ^ "Adela Catherine Breton". Trowelblazers. 27 April 2014.
  45. ^ "The Eccentric Miss Breton". Trowelblazers. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2017.

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