Way back in 1970, a Japanese roboticist named Masahiro Mori came up with the term "uncanny valley", the theory that as robots get more human like, people will respond positively to them, but only up to the point where they still definitely look like robots. Once they cross that point, or the uncanny valley, real humans will be disgusted by their robot counterparts, because they'll look almost like people, but not quite. And there is nothing we find more disturbing than that.
But what we're finding today is that it's not robots we have to worry about; the uncanny valley is all around you. Just consider ...
5The Booming "Realistic" Sex Doll Industry
While sex dolls have been around for decades, and men's desire to have sex with a woman who won't talk back or ask for anything has been around forever, it was an American who took them beyond a mere novelty and into the uncanny valley.
Artist Matt McMullen was trying to make art when he created his first lifelike miniature doll. He posted pictures of the little lady on the Internet, and surprisingly, somebody asked if it was, you know, doable. McMullen got an idea, and the RealDoll was born -- an incredibly realistic-looking sex doll complete with orifices, real-to-the-touch skin and hair, and, more recently, moving parts and programmable personalities in some models.
So what's the problem?
Other than the fact that you can now get rich selling life-sized masturbation aids (and they cost up to $10,000,) you have to ask what's the purpose of a RealDoll beyond what could be accomplished with the much simpler and cheaper Fleshlight (Google it -- or you can just figure out what it is by the name). Does making her look like this ...
... create a more human connection? Because she ... what? Fools you into thinking she's a real girl?
That's where it gets weird. There are some men out there interacting with their dolls in ways that prove emotional bonds can be creepier than the kind used by dominatrixes.
For instance, one guy recreated his dead lover in the form of a doll. Another carries a picture of his doll in his wallet and cuddles with her on the weekends while watching movies, just like he would with a real woman.
As the market grows, the technology advances, but only further into the valley. Take the recent revealing of TrueCompanion's Roxxxy. She comes with programmable personalities, all of which are sexist stereotypes. Then it was discovered that one of these personalities, called Frigid Farrah, will spurn and resist sexual advances.
In other words, for the right amount of money, a dangerous segment of the population can purchase pretend assault victims. There are some people who are seriously worried about the long-term implications of such lifelike sex toys.
Of course, verbal resistance won't stop any RealDoll from being forced into the doll porn industry quietly spreading across the Internet right now. Yeah, this is a thing too. No, we won't give you the link. Go talk to a real girl.
But what is chilling about these isn't the stiff, rubber skin monsters they have now -- it's the ones they'll be manufacturing 20 years from now. The ones your children will be bringing home, that you won't be able to tell aren't real people until you look into their cold, dead eyes.