It is ironic that the act of baby making can feel so unsexy.
Can a sex machine ever replace the joys of the flesh? And can you actually imagine yourself getting it on with a handsome sexbot? Welcome to the future of sex, ladies.
Sex robots have long been a figment of our imaginations, starring in 1982’s Blade Runner, and who can forget those feisty fembots, in Austin Powers? But soon they’ll be a reality; in fact, they’ll be part of our everyday lives, researchers say. Sydney sexologist, Dr Michelle Mars (pictured), who specialises in the sociology of sex gender and sexual well-being, says it’s not a matter of if we’ll all be having sex with robots, but when.
Dr Mars is discussing the topic of sex robots at the futureofsex.net forum at Sydney next month. It’s a topic close to her heart following her 2010 paper, Robots, Men And Sex Tourism, which she co-wrote with “futurologist”, professor Ian Yeoman, her then-colleague at the Victoria Management School in Wellington, New Zealand.
After all, as Dr Mars points out – sex robots aren’t that much of a leap, considering women have already been using vibrators since they were invented at the turn of the 20th century. “Sex robots are absolutely inevitable and are likely to change the way we all have sex,” Dr Mars says.
“When you look at the technologisation of sex already, it’s clear that increasingly this kind of sex will become part of our leisure and pleasure. People will crave a luminal sexual experience.
“Sex robot prototypes, models, latex sex dolls and haptic technology – which recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user – exist already.
“Advances in technology mean that machines are beginning to move organically. Data storage and manipulation capabilities and capacity constantly evolve. And enabling technologies is increasingly part of our lives. According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, by 2029 we will not be able to tell the difference between human and machine.”
So, what are the moral and ethical quandaries associated with sex with robots? How will intimate relationships be affected? Will sex robots help or hinder our close interpersonal relationships? “We have all the technology we need to make a sex robot right now, we have plenty of curiosity, but we don’t have the market to drive it,” Dr Mars says.
“Love and sex with a robot is not something most of us can envisage and is it real if we have to pay? Sex robots will enable sexual pleasures, but are highly likely to impede our sexual pleasures relationships.
“Women’s sexual pleasure has been enhanced by robots for over a century when they were invented at a time when orgasms were noted as a calmative or cure for women’s hysteria. Known as the job that nobody wanted, bringing women to orgasm apparently tested doctors’ skills and patience. Vibrators expedited the process of orgasm and soon women started self-soothing.
“We often look back to history for clues to the future. Vibrators definitely enhance women’s sexual relationships with themselves, but how well they have been embraced and incorporated into relationships is another story. Vibrators can be seen as threatening or read as a sign that a partner is not satisfied with our lovemaking.
“Sex robots will remember and predict our pleasures unfailingly. As Jude Law, playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, says: ‘Once you’ve had a lover-robot, you’ll never want a real man again.’”
In their paper, Dr Mars and Professor Ian Yeoman originally wrote about sex tourism in Amsterdam, focusing on men as the main consumers. But sex robots will “service” men and women equally in the future, she says.
“I think possibly women will demand more of their lovers and there will be more pressure on people to learn about sex, be fit for sex and know what they are doing. Sex robots will broaden our sexual horizons and inspire us to know more. Sex robots will usher a new era of sexual knowledge, understanding and expression.”
So, does sex with a robot constitute cheating? And will sex robots break up marriages aplenty, in the future? “How far can I go before it’s cheating? This is a question my clients often want to discuss,” Dr Mars says.
“They often ask: ‘If I watch porn is it cheating? If I go online and find a chat room to indulge a proclivity my partner doesn’t share, is it cheating? If I fantasise about my friend’s boyfriend, have a threesome, kiss a girl/boy/transperson, is it wrong?’
“By 2050, if not before, we will have a choice to have sex with a humanoid robot. And, in an era of sexual repression, which is where we are now, it will be seen as cheating!”
By “era of sexual repression”, Dr Mars means many people today still don’t have the kind of sex they really want, and/or don’t talk about sex or even know that much about sex. “It’s more acceptable to have a wider interest in sex now, because of the internet, but people still have many issues with the actual ‘having the sex’,” she says.
“There’s angst, guilt, and people make mistakes because they try to have the kind of sex porn stars have, but they are professionals. People often don’t really know what to do and they don’t act on their desires because they don’t want to lose relationships.”
Watch this space, ladies: sex with robots looks certain to become our new reality.
Images via target-news.com, thedailybeast.com, cityoftongues.com and dorkbotsf.wordpress.com