Let’s talk about sex. Not the real kind where two people perform the act, but rather the potential for sex robots to replace human on human sexual encounters. This sounds like some insane science fiction movie plot but it might actually be what’s ahead in terms of what sex will look like for some. There is already a company, RealDolls, working to make robots that will interact with users in order to have a more pleasurable sexual experience.
The company RealDolls has been making lifelike sex dolls since 1996. They have come a long way since then. These dolls are a far cry from blowup dolls people bought for the hell of it These dolls are soft and supple, they look ridiculously lifelike. While many people obviously have a thing for these human like sex dolls, I find them extraordinarily creepy. If you look at a picture of one of them and didn’t know it was a doll you would definitely think it was a real girl and that’s more than a little weird.
Anyways, back to the idea of a sex robot that not only looks real but has the actual ability to respond not only verbally but with movement to what you are doing. The company has already tried a few things that have failed to produce life-like results. Shocker. But some have predicted these robots will be around by 2025 and still others think that they might even “have the capacity to fall in love with humans and to make themselves romantically attractive and sexually desirable to humans,” by 2050.
Can you even begin to fathom what that might mean for the world? People are already using RealDolls to replace intimate human contact, but what if some day they can use them to replace normal conversations with real people and have thriving relationships with them.
Matt McMullen, the creator of RealDoll stated that, “…whatever amount of technology I incorporate into our dolls as we go forward into the future will be geared at the simple goal of enhancing that interaction, not taking away from it. I would never see that being a threat to an organic woman at all.” Obviously the people who already buy these dolls realize they aren’t real women, or men (can’t leave the ladies out, right?), but that doesn’t necessarily stop them from form a bond with their dolls. If they one day end up being as life-like as the robots in Ex-Machina, who’s to say that we will even realize that they aren’t real people. The dolls already have human characteristics and the company even has a line made to look like real life porn stars so this thought isn’t nearly as unattainable as one might suspect.
This video shows one of the prototypes for RealDoll sex robots. She looks less like a real person than the normal sex dolls they sell, but she has the capability to respond to touch. She can talk, but her mouth doesn’t move like an actual person, her head moves around awkwardly and makes weird noises, and her voice quality is horrible. Her eyelashes are no longer real hair, but are replaced by super creepy plastic replicas. Her eyes are huge and don’t blink nearly enough and her tongue has the ability to move in and out of her mouth while she looks at you with a blank stare. The creator of these dolls is making them purely out of “artistic drive,” which I can understand to a point. It takes real talent to sculpt such realistic dolls and that part is quite fascinating.
The part I get caught up on is the idea that these dolls could one day completely replace the need for real sexual encounters. McMullen points out that the people who buy the original dolls they sell are potentially, “grieving over the loss of a spouse and can’t fathom dating. Others are perhaps disfigured, disabled, or so terrified of women they can’t even look at them. But they all like the idea of having a human-ish presence around rather than watching them on a screen, drowning their sorrows, and withering away completely alone.” Even knowing that and the intentions that McMullen has in regards to moving forward with these robots, I still can’t help but feel that these dolls could make some individuals stop desiring to have normal contact with other people. When AIs were first thought up, I’m almost certain that the creators didn’t think their technology would one day be used in sex robots made for the masses to purchase and do whatever they want with them.