Back in 2012, I bought the domain name www.robotshop.xxx. It was more for Brand protection than selling Sexbots, but I certainly foresaw at that time the possibility of a future where the relationships between humans and technologies would have changed to a point where such an adult robotics ecommerce website would not only make sense but would be widespread. In his book Love + Sex with Robots, Leading expert in artificial intelligence David Levy argues that the entities we once deemed cold and mechanical will soon become the objects of real companionship and human desire.
According to a study by Gigaom Research, robot sex partners will be commonplace by 2025. Surprisingly, social support is weighing in on the side of those who are tired of the complications of traditional romance. Millennials live with a “my way, right away” attitude that doesn’t mesh well with relationships, so does it make sense for our sex lives to be outsourced to realistic-looking machines programmed to respond exactly how we want at any given moment?
Support isn’t just coming from the younger set. Nearly 50 percent of UK survey respondents said they would bring a robot to bed, or support the rights of others who did, and young people in tech-friendly Japan have already turned away from human-to-human relations. Both women and men show a disinterest in having sex, with boys especially saying they’d support the advancement of sexbots, especially those exhibiting cyber-intelligence.
The first sexbots on the market have not been a huge success though. Roxxxy, made by TrueCompanion, is a full-sized sexbot with artificial intelligence and three anatomically correct orifices. Roxxxy has five distinct personalities with which she analyzes and responds to your speech. She even has a motor used for circulating warmth from head to toe, ensuing she’s always comfortable to touch.
To date, no customers have surfaced to give their reviews and the tech sites posting their own have complained about the doll’s appearance, noise created by the internal motor and the fact that the Roxxxy is merely pose-able versus able to move on her own. Rocky, the fembots male counterpart, remains a mystery. While he’s for sale online even the manufacturer doesn’t have photos of a completed prototype.
For TrueCompanion, it seems, the technology just isn’t there yet, but what about other sexbot manufacturers? Not many products have made it to market, but Japan is leading the pack with its robot-assisted virtual sex product, utilizing Oculus Rift, Novint Falcon, and a Tenga sex device, similar to the Fleshlight.
While not yet mechanized, Japan’s line of Dutch Wife dolls has also made a big impact on the market, closing the “uncanny valley” between creep factor and acceptance by creating dolls that look convincingly human. It won’t be long before we have sexbots which feel, look and act like the real thing. What then?
Inherent in the discussion is the issue of ethics, and the impact sexbot relations will have on human interaction. Manufacturers realize they have obligations to not harm anyone physically in a way which prevents them from having sex with another real person later on, but what about emotional impact? What will happen when a man or woman who is used to having his sexual partners react exactly how he wants, when he wants, confronted with a real human who has her/his own opinions?
There are legitimate concerns of robot sex ruining the experience when it comes to human partners. The sexual habits you create on your own can bleed over into the bedroom with someone else, as well have a significant impact on performance. It’s unclear the effects frequent use of a sexbot might have, but porn and frequent masturbation have both been shown to raise risks for infidelity and divorce.
It will be interesting to see how manufacturers will manage these risks while building their products, and if the robotics industry will place limitations on development to prevent social problems.
And what about you. What would you answer to this question: Yes or No to Sexbots ?