The Invasion of the Sexbots
While sexbots are currently quite primitive, a new report published in the Journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy argues that before long they will be able to look, speak and act like real people – and will be specifically designed to fulfill a person’s desires.
In as few as 25 years, engaging in bedroom romps with artificial intelligence will be seen as a completely normal, but this may also put you at risk of having your “deepest perversions” revealed to total strangers.
“It could be that we are so busy with our lives, we are so embedded in our technological narrative that the idea of engaging in long-distance sex and robot sex is actually a natural process in our evolutionary cycle,” Dr. Trudy Barber from Portsmouth University said at the International Congress of Love and Sex with Robotics.
The scientist, who is a leading figure in the study of technology’s impact on our sexuality, believes that machines will help us cherish “the real thing” and make our “real-time relationships more valuable and exciting.”
Sexbots will become an “extra human race” and help humans explore “our sexual pallet,” she added.
The report’s authors, Neil McArthur and Markie L. C. Twist, from the University of Manitoba, Canada, argue that we need to be ready to deal with the phenomenon when it comes to fruition.
“There is no question, then, that sexbots are coming,” McArthur and Twist say. “Our view is that they will represent a different sort of sexual experience from what existing technologies offer. First of all, people will form an intense connection with their robot companions.”
“These robots will be tailor-made to meet people’s desires, and will do things that human partners cannot or will not do. For this reason, significant numbers of people will likely come to use robots as their primary mode of sexual experience.”
The pair, who also co-authored the book “Robot Sex: A Book for the Enlightened Sapiosexual,” argue that the rise of digisexuality will bring benefits, including potentially saving human relationships.
They also say that digisexuality will have a positive impact, particularly for people who experienced sexual trauma in the past or for those who have difficulty forming human relationships.
However they warn that it will also bring a slew of difficulties and argue that doctors must be prepared to deal with digisexuality and have a framework for how to approach it.
Noel Sharkey of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) recently argued against sex robots being used by the elderly in care homes.
“They are being proposed for the elderly in care homes, which I think is controversial. If you have severe Alzheimer’s you can’t really tell the difference. We need to think about as a society what we want to do about it,” the researcher said.
“It’s very sad because it’s going to be a one-way relationship,” he continued. “If people bond with robots it’s very worrying. You are loving an artifact that can’t love you back, and the best they can do is fake it.”
The Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) said although there are downsides to their use, the arrival of the sex machine is unstoppable.
“I can tell you that robots are certainly coming,” said Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield, and co-founder of the FRR.
“The concern is that this is going on [and] nobody is talking about it. People snigger about them, but they are actually shipping quite a lot and we are going to see them a lot more.”
Professor Sharkey, who was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a new consultation report, said it is time for the government to step in and start regulating sex bots.
“They are being proposed for the elderly in care homes, which I think is controversial. If you have severe Alzheimer’s you can’t really tell the difference,” said the researcher.
“We need to think about as a society what we want to do about it.”
Professor Sharkey’s report found that nearly two-thirds of men and around 30 percent of women support the use of sex dolls.
Brothels of sex dolls already exist in Japan, Spain, and South Korea. The opening of a robot sex cafe in west London has long been rumored, but to skeptics is beginning to look like a publicity stunt or an urban legend.
Individual dolls can cost between £4,000 and £12,000 ($5,000 to $15,000) and can be customized by gender, height, and hair and eye color. Advanced models can even include artificial intelligence and respond to human emotions.
But researchers warned that sex with robots could isolate people.
“It’s very sad because it’s going to be a one way relationship,” Prof Sharkey said.
“If people bond with robots it’s very worrying. You are loving an artefact that can’t love you back, and the best they can do is fake it.”
The sector has a significant “dark side,” too, with some arguing robots could benefit non-offending pedophiles and people with rape fantasies.
“There isn’t a conversation happening in the general public about what is acceptable, permissible and what should be promoted,” FRR co-founder Aimee van Wynsberghe said.
“This is a preliminary step to engage policymakers, academics, the tech industry and the general public.”