Strap yourself in and put on a clean pair of panties because I’m going to talk about sex robots again. I know I’ve talked about it a lot, sometimes as a thought experiment and sometimes in response to new breakthroughs, such as the first robot brothel. If it sounds like I think about sex robots more than any straight man should, I apologize. It’s not my fault the subject is both titillating and relevant.
I say it’s relevant because, even when you remove the titillating parts, robots are becoming an increasingly large part of our society. They’re not just fancy toys and CGI characters in Michael Bay movies. Robots are a growing part of our economy. In some ways, they’re taking it over.
Forget China, Mexicans, and immigrants. According a Ball State study, robots accounted for 87 percent of the loss in manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010. People aren’t being put out of work because some foreigners are coming over and stealing jobs. Factories are just becoming more efficient because they’re using robots.
Have you ordered something from Amazon lately? Have you ordered something from any retailer? Well, chances are, a robot helped process that order and for good reason. Robots don’t get sick, they don’t unionize, they don’t get tired, and they don’t take coffee breaks.
The problem is that robots don’t respond to protests, intimidation, racism, and xenophobia. In addition, robots like the ones Boston Dynamics have created recently are kind of scary. Protest all you want. You are not going to win a fight against a robot. They may not kill you like the Terminator, but they will take over because they’re just that much more efficient.
Now I don’t want to get into a debate about how robots affect the economy and how people can possibly compete against robot workers. That’s a complex debate that isn’t going to make anyone outside of an economics class horny. Instead, I’d like to discuss the growing trends in robots in a more intimate manner.
Robots are going to be a bigger part of our lives in the coming years. There’s just too much money to be made and too many benefits to overlook. There will be those who take “The Terminator” and “The Matrix” too seriously and dread that robots will destroy us all. I’m not saying that’s an impossible scenario, but I do believe it’s one we can avoid.
That’s where the intimacy comes in. We can’t fight robots and win. Robots can’t get made without us. In a sense, we’re already two creatures that are intimately entwined. So perhaps a solution to embracing robots as part of humanity is to actually love them and teach them to love us back.
I know it doesn’t sound that sexy right now. When most people think of robots these days, they either think of the ones that took their jobs or the ones that blow shit up in every action movie ever made. On top of that, they don’t exactly much sex appeal.
However, I believe that will change. I believe it’s already changing with the way we interact with technology. We already have AI assistants that are steadily integrating themselves into our lives. We have Siri on our phones, Alexa in our homes, and Cortana in our computers. These AI’s don’t have bodies yet, but one day they will. The only question is how much sex appeal will we give them?
That’s progress for some and another step towards a robot apocalypse for another. What’s the endgame though? Well, nobody can really say right now, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer who gets most of his robot knowledge from comic books and TED Talks. However, there is one scenario that I might be able to explore, which may end up deciding whether we get along with them or become their pet meat-bags.
It starts with a simple question that I’m sure everyone who is single or stuck in an unsatisfying relationship has asked themselves in some form or another. If you could create the perfect lover, what would he or she be like?
With pace of advancement in robotics technology, that’s not entirely a rhetorical question anymore. If we can program a robot to keep our schedule, clean our carpets, and fill our Amazon orders, then why can’t we program one to love us? Again, that’s not entirely a rhetorical question.
I say not entirely because there’s still a lot about emotions we don’t understand. There are probably certain aspects about emotions we can never understand. Human beings are just too complicated. What else explains the love and devotion that some people put into lovers, family, and My Little Pony?
Even if we don’t fully understand our emotion, we still understand them well enough to know what want in a lover. Robots, being programmable and malleable, are an ideal medium for crafting those emotional connections. We’ve already made a movie about a man who falls in love with his phone. Someone falling in love with a life-like robot isn’t too great a stretch.
The concept has already found itself into plenty of narratives, including a Hallie Joel Osmont movie and a technical demonstration for the PlayStation 4 called “Kara.” Just watch “Kara” for a moment and let your dirty, sexy thoughts fill in the blanks.
Kara might have just been a demonstration, but it crafts a clear and believable scenario about how our future robot lovers may take shape. Like buying a custom computer, we specify how we want it to look. We specify which language it’ll speak. We even craft a personality that we find desirable. Anything we could possibly want in a lover, we could create.
Want your lover to look like a young Brad Pitt? You can have one. Want your lover to look like Jennifer Lawrence? You can have one. Want your lover to look like mix of Keith Richards and Snoop Dogg? You can have one of those too, even if it does reveal a lot about your tastes in lovers.
The gender of your robot lover could be fluid. It could be exceedingly masculine, like John Cena on steroids. It can be voluptuously feminine, like Pamela Anderson after a boob job. It can even be some sort of blend, a female body with a penis or a male body with a vagina. There’s no limit because robots aren’t confined by the limits of biology.
Those worried about the functionality of certain body parts wouldn’t have to worry. Lab-grown body parts are already in development. It’s even farther ahead than you think. I’ve already talked about the development of a bionic penis. Given a few more decades of refinement, artificial genitals won’t just be functional. They’ll function better than anything nature could create.
These robot lovers wouldn’t be slaves or servants, though. There would likely be other types of robots to fill these uses. These robots have one purpose and one purpose only. That’s to be your ideal lover. How can any other human possibly compete? Just as robots took our factory jobs, they may also take the job of every whore, gigolo, and match-maker.
For some, this is a scary scenario, people preferring the love of robots over other people. Some would even dread that this would lead to the extinction of the human race. Well, those same people probably haven’t heard about artificial wombs either. In fact, it’s probably a good idea not to tell them. If they have that big a problem with robot lovers, then chances are they won’t feel much better about robot wombs.
We create robots because we seek more efficiency. We seek lover because, as living beings, we seek connection. Robots, in their current form, aren’t alive and don’t need the same connections. However, once we create in them a desire for connection, what would that mean for them? What would that mean for us?
I’m not at all qualified to contemplate the full implications. At most, I’m qualified to take this concept and turn it into a sexy story. Chances are, I will at some point in the future. I can’t say it’ll be a prelude of things to come. I craft my stories with the intent of being fun, entertaining, and sexy.
However, there may come a day when a sexy story just doesn’t cut it. One day, our desire for connection may find its way into a robot. When that happens, what kind of connection will we create? What kind of intimacy will we forge? It’s a daunting, but sexy idea to contemplate.