In forty years, we will be dating Malebots and Fembots, even going so far as to marry them. So says David Levy, author of Love and Sex with Robots. The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. To which I say, sure, your own brand robot may well be available at your local Wal-Mart within our lifetimes, but will anyone want to buy him (or her)?
Admittedly, I did once sing the praises of a product I had invented, the Robolover, which will, once developed, bankrupt the makers of vibrators, the producers of Prozac, and even the manufacturers of Dunkin Donuts, due to the Robolover’s ability to perform with a level of technical finesse equivalent to Michael Jackson’s mastery of the moonwalk. Oh yes, once the Robolover’s finished moonwalking you to ecstasy you will be ready to face real life and yes, even your husband. But to be frank, I really never saw the Robolover as a replacement for a human, more as an adjunct.
Levy however, reckons that robots will show us forms of lovemaking we’ve never seen before and that, additionally, we will also love these robots as if they were people.
But before you laugh too loudly at the thought of saying “I do” to a robot, just think at how people laughed at the predecessor of the Rabbit, the pedal operated female masturbation device which engineers developed in Leipzig in 1926 (I can’t quite get my head round how you can pedal operate anything while you are in the throws of ecstasy, but still).
A Dutch Wife
Looking back, people - okay men - have always lusted after inanimate female substitutes. Dutch seafarers would take handmade leather dolls with them on long trade journeys. Consequently, in Japan, sex dolls are still called Dutch Wives. These days the tradition of sex dolls is carried on by the Japanese company Orient Industry, which creates perfect replicas of Japanese womanhood (see below).
For those of us who live in the US and have nothing better to do with $6500, you can buy a Real Doll which you can order in several variants with breasts up to a size 36H. There is also a male variant called Charlie who has a detachable penis (my husband could not understand why one would want to detach the penis and I was too chicken to email customer services).
Charlie, the male variant of the Real Doll line. My worry is, what happens if the dog runs off with his detachable penis?
All pretty sexually inadequate, because the doll just lies there like a lump of plastic. Taking it further, a crackpot called Hiroshi Ishiguro has created a new Robot woman which, he claims, has human reactions. Apparently, she looks like she’s breathing and she reacts when you touch her:
Okay, okay, I accept that in forty years robots may be able to have physical reactions like humans, but you will never be able to replicate emotions in a robot, and surely that’s most of the reason why we have sex with other humans, for that fleeting sense of connection.
Also, if robots do become our lovers and partners, I’m pretty sure there will be all sorts of new ethical problems. Like, is it okay for me to sleep with your robot lover while you are out and do I need to inform you? After all, this is only a machine. Or can you sleep with a human behind your robot wife’s back?
Basically, I think the whole thing about marrying robots is daft. I am still waiting patiently for when robots are created that can clean houses, cook fantastic meals, give massages, and generally take the slave role in life.
I do not believe I could ever marry a robot. But never say never. What about you? What would you like a robot to do for you?
Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?