In the past few years human-AI and human-robot interactions have witnessed a strong upsurge of interest in the more personal aspects of human relationships. Remember Her or Ex Machina? Humans just started to explore how to build their relationships with these artificial partners.
Futurologist Dr Ian Pearson predicts that by 2030 “as well as toys and apps, we’ll also get direct nervous systems links, dream linking and even body sharing. You’ll be able to link your dream sex to other people, feel their sensations as well as your own, and directly stimulate orgasms by the touch of an icon, or even send someone an orgasm over messages”. If you read my previous post on sex toys and apps you may know that the technology is there already. What’s next in the agenda?
According to AI expert and author of Love and Sex with Robots book David Levy by 2050 “ordinary people will routinely fall in love with robots and have sex with them”. Let’s explore what’s available on the market to see how likely is this prediction to happen.
How do we define a sex robot given that sex toys are already intelligent enough? Sex robot usually refers to any robot with sexual functionality and similar to human being sexual characteristics. The most common sexbot would have artificial male and female genitals and designed to give physical pleasure to its owner. Some sophisticated sex dolls with human-like appearance have already been developed and launched into market.
Real Doll is the real thing. California-based company RealDoll recreates the appearance, texture, and weight of the female, male and transgender bodies with the purpose of serving as sex partners. The company gives its customers a variety of options to spark up their sex life. You may chose from 30 preconfigured real doll models, customize a unique appeal or design your own real doll from scratch.
Up until recently the dolls were poseable, but static and were’t able to interact. In June 2015 RealDoll CEO Matt McMullen together with engineers from Hanson Robotics started to work on a Real Doll AI. His hope is to create a bond between the man and the machine, a model that would arouse someone not only on physical, but emotional and intellectual level.
“I want people to actually develop an emotional attachment to not only the doll, but to the actual character behind it. To develop some kind of love for this being,” – Matt McMullen, RealDoll CEO
The project called Realbotix is a robotic head that you can mix and match it on your favourite Real Doll body. The head can blink, open and close its mouth. McMullen plans to release Realbotix heads in two years at the price of approximately $10,000. Currently the price for dolls’ bodies varies between 5,000 and 10,000$, which will make the real intelligent and interactive sex doll cost almost $20k.
McMullen also mentioned on Reddit He’s also working to integrate other emerging technologies, like a mobile app to control the doll, as well as VR apps that can be used separately or in tandem with the physical doll. The company also sells sex toys and dolls for use in forensic training, medical simulation and the like among other offerings.
But is it ok to have sex with robots?
Certainly, and not only sex. In the same Reddit chain Mc Mullen confessed that there were a few attempts to marry a sex doll: “I don’t know that the marriage was actually legally binding, but ceremonies have taken place”. However, most customers purchase dolls for what it’s originally made for – for sex.
Just like the machines replace humans in production and manufacturing, sex dolls may replace conventional sex workers. Why not? Sexy looking robots with similar human characteristic may become a good alternative to human sex workers, as they would secure the clients from the inherent danger of incurring disease, at the same time avoid the legal prohibition of the business.
While the latter sounds like a reasonable argument, in practice it’s not an easy bit. Some countries are not ready to accept sex robots as something suitable to their culture. For example, the first attempt to launch Sex with Robots Congress in Malaysia earlier this year failed due to the fact that having sex with robots there deemed illegal. “It’s already an offense in Malaysia to have anal sex, what more intercourse with robots”. – comments inspector general Khalid Abu Bakar.
Yet the Congress organizers don’t give up. The official website of the conference says:
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Second International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots will be postponed until 2016. The conference will definitely not be held anywhere in Malaysia. We deeply apologize to any person or any authority which have felt offense in any way.”
Do you believe that the entities we once deemed cold and mechanical may become the objects of real companionship and human desire? Would it be possible for humans to fall in love or form emotional attachments to the machines? Would the machines be advanced enough to develop feelings towards each other? Bjork has this theme back in 1997.
To get some ideas on the subject, you may want to look at Levy’s Love and Sex with Robots available here David Levy is also one of theLove and Sex with Robots Congress organizers.