7 Troubling Questions About Science's Pursuit of Robot Sex
An artificial intelligence expert by the name of David Levy has recently predicted that within the next 40 years, robots will have advanced to the point where they'll be so similar to humans in appearance and mannerisms that people will have sex with them freely. None of the articles I've read state whether Mr. Levy grows agitated and sweaty when discussing this, but I'm going to go ahead and say that yes, he does become agitated, and sweatily aroused when discussing fucking robots, the loose linen pants he prefers doing nothing to conceal his desires. That's just the kind of reporter I am. With my baseless slander set aside for the week, I can turn to the hard, turgid issues raised by this concept. This is more than just the sexual equivalent of a batting cage we're talking about here. Pleasuring spouses is one of the last great American industries to resist out-sourcing, so the concept of robotic labor making inroads into the sector is a grim portent indeed. As it happens, the topic of love making robots came up several times in a series of short, uhh, stories I once wrote on a newsgroup for a popular space travel themed show set where no man has gone before. So I'd already compiled several notes on the subject, which I present below in an exciting enumerated format: 1) Virginity. Right off the bat, here's a question that needs to be answered: are you still a virgin if you do it with a robot? I never seriously counted my first clumsy experiences with R.O.B. but will future-lads feel the same? 2) Error messages. Unless there's similar advances in the fields of sugar-coating, the error messages presented by a sexbot are a potential minefield for user relations. You thought you hated the paperclip before? 3) Viruses. At least we'd be safe from old fashioned diseases of the sort typically communicated by Thai-lady-boys. With proper maintenance, (which I don't encourage you to think about too closely) your chances of catching VD from a sexbot will be fairly minimal. But keeping your robotic lover protected from electronic diseases could be a major headache. Left unguarded, malicious code could be uploaded to your efficient bedtime pal, compromising your personal data. Sure you don't tattoo your bank PIN number on your dick now, but who knows how banks will work in the future? And how awkward would it be if your robotic paramour clamped down and held your genitals hostage until a ransom was paid? Imagine that happening the day before an important social event. 21st century Jane Austin-esque novelists will have more to say on the subject I'm sure. 4) Spam. The possibility of your lover becoming hijacked and turned into a spambot is a little discomforting to me. Imagine while you're busy sort of doing your thing and trying to find a comfortable place to put your left knee, it's all like: "You A+++ FLOPPY DICK LOVER! NEED M8KE LOVE LIKE TERRIBLE SKY DEMON? BUILD CANON DONG WITH DISCOUNT V1@grA! HAVE PENIS LIKE FIERCE JUNGL ROCKETSHIP!" 5) Body Modifications. The do it yourself culture will have a field day with these things. Sure it will start in small ways, like installing larger breasts, or lowering it an inch or two and swapping in some bigger rims. But don't think it will stop there. 6) Multiple Personalities. Same vein. It will also be relatively straightforward to be able to download alternate personalities for your sexbot. Whether you want your lover to be submissive, dominant, or Chinese, there will be a ready-made personality available for download. And again, the potential for fan mods is limitless. How great would it be making love to Wario? "Hah Hah! I'm ahhh gonnna weeen!" 7) Robots having sex with each other. I've been talking here mainly from the perspective of males making use of female shaped robots, because if we're being perfectly honest with each other, that will clearly make up a little north of 99% of the market. But there's nothing preventing this same technology from being used to make male sex-bots - who I'm sorry to say gents, will always know where to put their left knee. And seeing as the interface between males and females is pretty standardized, how can this not devolve into robots humping each other? Think of the potential for Battlebots style competitions. Just this sea of spindly, greasy-haired dudes surrounding a Plexiglas arena with a bed in the middle. Awesome. Gross. __ But let's calm down a bit and remember one thing: 2050 is a long way off. Societal trends and technological advances can shift or move in any direction during such a lengthy period. By that time, there may be so many new and exciting places to stick our penises that the concept of sex with a robot will seem laughably antiquated.