Henrik Christensen of the European Robotics Research Network told the UK’s Sunday Times in June 2006 that “people are going to be having sex with robots within five years.” Well, it’s only been four, but he’s right already.
Since the cheap vinyl blow up dolls lost their appeal, it has been guaranteed that the dolls would improve to the point where they could, in fact, discuss sports with you. This is the promise behind “Roxxxy TrueCompanion,” the first sex robot, which was unveiled two weeks ago.
A sexbot is more complicated than your everyday sex toy, which usually has a single function. A dildo is meant to penetrate, a vibrator to vibrate, a Fleshlight to provide an orifice. High-end sex robots do not only provide the physical features of a person, but they are crafted in polymers designed to imitate live skin. However, even if such functions as warmth and breathing are added, this is still technically a sex doll.
The main selling feature of a robot is interactivity. To provide even a crude sexual experience, the robot must respond to touch and motion with appropriate levels of arousal. On a totally different level, Roxxxy is the first sex toy that is can listen to and talk. It has been of interest in the artificial intelligence industry to create a robot that can carry on conversation well enough to be confused with an actual person — although those conversations probably weren’t this racy.
Roxxxy is apparently so good at conversation that she has the capability of being “your true friend” according to the company’s Web site. For many people, this is the most disturbing part of this whole idea. Having sex with anything besides a living, breathing human being is pretty damn taboo in our culture, but nothing compares to loving an inanimate object. In some photographs, Roxxxy can even be mistaken for a real woman. But this woman can’t change her facial expression or stand up on her own.
So it’s definitely possible for you to have sex with a robot. But will you? Currently, that territory seems to belong to the terminally lonely who can afford to spend up to $9,000 on their very own Roxxxy. But everyone knows how fast technology progresses, and this is only the first sex robot available for purchase.
“Blade Runner” predicted androids would be all but indistinguishable from humans in 2019, including robots made specifically as “pleasure models.”
While they may not be here quite that soon, it is obvious that given enough time, sexbot technology will improve. Perhaps to the point that we can’t tell the difference.
Getting confused about reality is all well and good when it comes to sex, but what about love? Are we safe from the day when people fall in love with machines? People have definitely claimed to have fallen in love with inanimate objects before, but it doesn’t seem likely that any computer, no matter how complicated, could ever be described as being in love with someone.
Admittedly, I am not even in the Robotics Club, but to me, a robot who really loves you, rather than fools you into thinking it does, seems impossible. And even if it is a possibility, I’d rather pretend it isn’t because I’d like to feel that humans are superior.
In David Levy’s book, “Love and Sex with Robots,” he establishes the other reason, besides love, why sex with a human being is more exciting than sex with a robot: “the possibility of failure or denial.” If you have sex with a person, you know that they could have refused your advances. This leads to a sense of accomplishment and value, a better feeling than some silly endorphins could ever hope to cause.
You wouldn’t get any such feelings from a robot programmed to be interested in sex, no matter what. It would probably be possible to just program some unpredictability into a sexbot, but this misses the point of having one in the first place. And you know what happens in movies when they give robots free will … the robot uprising.
I think I’ll stick to the living.