*But were afraid to ask.
In a society that throws parties where participants learn about and buy sex toys, it’s no surprise that companies are exploiting modern technology for sexual gratification.
Before humans can start copulating with cyborgs, however, there are a few things we should know, as outlined in a new report by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR).
1. There is no shortage of interest in mechanized sex
A number of polls conducted over the last four years reveal a potential market for sex robots—particularly (yet unsurprisingly) among heterosexual men.
“We should not neglect the importance of the females who answered positively about half as often,” FRR said in its study. “We have no explanation for these difference, and more research is required.”
Perhaps it is a result of the general lack of male-featured androids currently available.
Sex robots are a man’s world, as demonstrated by Abyss Creations, maker of the life-size RealDoll sex toy (above). In April, the firm introduced its Harmony AI platform, which lets users create the 3D woman of their dreams by adjusting body shape and size, skin color, and other physical details.
A male version of the app is in the works.
2. Must love dogs (and display other human-like characteristics of emotion and conversation)
“The goal is to produce robots that we can form a relationship with,” according to RFF.
Manufacturers are clamoring to create an experience as close to a human sexual encounter as possible—complete with power limbs and soothing voice box.
“Humans can easily be deceived into attributing mental states and behavior to robots because of our natural tendency to project human characteristics onto appropriately configured inanimate objects,” the Foundation said.
Such anthropomorphism—as demonstrated by Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl—makes it easier for us to simply create the perception of a genuine human sex partner.
“However, despite many years of research, no one has yet managed to develop a robot that crosses the uncanny valley and fools us into thinking that it is human,” FRR added.
3. Will Westworld‘s fantasies become a reality?
In a 2012 journal article, Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars predicted that Amsterdam’s red light district will embrace robot sex workers by 2050.
And if Asia and Europe’s affinity for sex doll brothels is any indication, they’re probably right.
“If static sex dolls can be hired out successfully, then sexbots with moving components seem certain to be even more successful,” artificial intelligence researcher David Levy wrote in 2007. “If vibrators can be such a huge commercial success, then malebots with vibrating penises would also seem likely to have great commercial potential.”
There is no indication, though, that robots will end prostitution or sex trafficking.
4. Sex bots perpetuate gender perceptions—and not in a good way
Experts believe that, much like pornography, the use of sex robots “sexualizes rape, violence, harassment and prostitution” and “eroticizes dominance and submission.”
Not to mention the negative body image the sculpted silicon machines create.
The big question, as posed by FRR, is “what additional impact on societal perception” will this create “within an already burgeoning adult industry that thrives on such objectification and commodification?”
5. How to lose friends and alienate people
Just as your muscles will atrophy without use, so could your social life once you start bonking a robot on the regular.
A majority of scholars cited by FRR believe that sex robots could lead to “some form of social isolation”—holding users back from creating strong friendships and even stunting their ability to feel intimacy and empathy.
On the other hand, “there could be social acceptance, and people may take their sex robots out on social occasions,” the Foundation suggested.
Most awkward double date ever.
6. Sexual robot healing makes me feel so fine
While most sex robots will be sold for recreational purposes, there are legitimate medical uses for the technology—including assistance with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and social anxiety about a first sexual encounter.
7. Can child sex robots curb crime?
Perhaps most controversially, sex robots have been proposed for use in preventing crimes like violent assault, rape, and pedophilia.
But, before you get on your high horse about child-like bots performing sexual favors, consider Shin Takagi and Trottla, the company making sex dolls for perverts.
“We should accept that there is no way to change someone’s fetishes,” Takagi told The Atlantic last year. “I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically.”
The question of sex robots for therapeutic use remains unanswered—and hotly debated.
“On one side there are those who believe that expressing disordered or criminal sexual desires with a sex robot would satiate them to the point where they would not have the desire to harm fellow humans,” FRR said, playing devil’s advocate. “On the other side, many others believe that this would be an indulgence that could encourage and reinforce illicit sexual practices.”
Check out the Foundation for Responsible Robotics’ full report online for more details and interviews with the CEOs of True Companion and RealBotix sex robot makers.
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