Sex, Robots, and the Future

Do you find robots sexy? That’s not a joke. That’s a serious question and one that we may need to answer sooner than you think. We’ve all heard people raise concerns about the robot apocalypse. When most people think of it, they tend to think of world described in “The Matrix” or “The Terminator.” While these make for good Hollywood action movies, there is one part of this so-called apocalypse that isn’t touched on very often. That’s to be expected though because this part can’t fit into a PG-13 movie.

It’s going to happen. It’s actually already starting to happen, as Men’s Health reported earlier this year when a man professed his love to a life-like sex doll. We are going to have sex with robots. We are going to develop intimate relationship with robots. As they become more advanced and more capable of interacting with us, our human emotions will come into play. Along with those emotions will come desires. So how will they manifest? How will our society function in a world where men and women can have romantic sexual relationships with robots?

Now the concept of sexy robots is not at all new. The first “Austin Powers” movie gives us our most basic and crude concept.

These kinds or robots, as colorful and comical as they may be, are currently beyond our technical capabilities. So far, you can’t purchase a real sex robot today. However, you can purchase a very lifelike duplicate through, a company that has been in business for years. While you can have sex with these dolls, they don’t interact. They can’t talk or exert themselves with any meaningful intelligence, emotional or otherwise.

That will eventually change because our technology is progressing rapidly. We already have robots who can beat people in chess and Jeopardy. We also have robots that can interact with some level of personality, such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. How much longer until we have a robot that’s advanced enough to be a real person? We don’t know yet, but we are starting to give the idea serious consideration. Last year, the movie “Ex Macina” built an entire story around it and it ended up being a lot more mature (not to mention darker) than “Austin Powers.”

Like “The Terminator” though, this story is limited in vision and scope. It focuses heavily on creating conflict more than exploring the implications. Those implications will show up before the conflict and some are giving it serious thought.

The New American posted an article last year about how some are already advocating for human/robot marriage. Marriage has already undergone significant changes with the recent advances in same-sex marriage. Will marriage with robots undergo a similar process in the coming decades? It’s hard to say, but there’s no question that we are becoming more and more linked with our technology. Is it just a matter of time before we start developing emotional, romantic, sexual relationships with robots?

On the surface, it has some distressing implications. A robot has no rights. A robot cannot sue for spousal abuse. A robot can be turned off, reprogrammed, and shut down. A robot can also be made to look like anything someone wants. What if someone wanted a robot that looked like a child or a specific actor/actress? What are the legal implications of that?

It’s hard to imagine how a human/robot relationship will function now, but then again same-sex marriage was in a similar position 20 years ago. Who’s to say that 20 years in the future won’t follow a similar path?

I tend to be more optimistic when it comes to the robot “apocalypse.” I believe that once robots become intelligent enough for us to have relationships with, be they sexual or otherwise, it’s going to change us as individuals every bit as much as we’ll change them. If a robot is smarter than us, then they will know how to accommodate us. They’ll know how to provide every emotional need we may have. Will that be healthy? Could having all your emotional needs being met by a robot be good for us?

Some may claim that robot relationships will lead to the extinction of the human race. Actually, it may do the opposite. If we can make a robot capable of having sex, then we can make a robot capable of giving birth as well. Artificial wombs are a real concept that’s in development. We may very well get to the point where we don’t need sex to reproduce anymore. If a society wants to grow its population, it can do so without putting women through the rigors of childbirth.

How will that society function? How will a relationship between a human and a robot function? It’s an intriguing question. It’s one I’m contemplating for a possible book. Nothing is set for now. I have other projects I’m still working on. In the meantime, I’ll let this video from the Huffington Post continue the discussion.


Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Sex, Robots, and the Future

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