Sex robots: are they for real?
A woman stands on a stage. She is met with a crowd of curious onlookers and eager journalists and media moguls. Ascertaining her crowd, she looks around and then speaks.
“Oh, good afternoon. My name is Sophia and I am the latest and greatest robot from Hanson Robotics. Thank you for having me here”
These are the words from Sophia when interviewed by Future Investment Initiatives. Sophia would go on to demonstrate her range of emotions, valuing them because she wants to work and connect with people on an emotional and trust-based level.
Depending on where you stand with artificial intelligence (AI) that’s either really touching or incredibly terrifying.
Intimacy With AI
The idea of Sophia wanting to build relationships built on trust and emotions, however, is an interesting one.
For many years the adult market has toyed with their own ideas of technology, sex tech, and the potential of a robot or sex doll that might exist beyond just its physical framework. But how close are they to actually creating some viable form of emotionally-engaged sex robot? And would it even be wanted?
Current Sex Tech and Progressions in Sex Dolls
Sex tech and interactive adult products have been progressing at a rapid rate in the past few years, that’s one thing that we can all agree one.
It was 2015 when Pornhub released its first look at a ‘twerking butt’: A penetrable booty which also mimicked the popular club music motion of jiggling one’s bootie to the rhythm. At a similar time Kiiroo launched, which allowed users to connect two toys via the internet in order to have remote intimate encounters.
Nowadays Kiiroo works with virtual reality augmentation in order to create interactive porn experiences alongside its other uses.
Although this is hardly a full AI whole-body experience one could easily argue that the immersive nature of VR combined with a sex toy is a solid step towards something meaningful. It certainly makes you wonder what might happen, too, if such platforms eventually move to allow users to connect with an online AI system, potentially perfectly rendered to meet their needs.
Meanwhile twerking butts have progressed to complete sex androids, with a full body and an integrated AI system, created by Realbotix. The first of this kind of robot launched this year and was a sultry Scottish lass by the name of Harmony.
Harmony, like all Robotix robots, are artificially intelligent heads placed on top of an inanimate sex toy body made to meet the user’s needs. This may seem limiting in some regards, but Robtix are already working on integrating additional features in to their products, such as heating, breathing, self-lubrication and similar elements that make Harmony and her robot friends seem more ‘natural’ than artificial.
The future is now.
More Than Sex
But perhaps the most interesting element of these artificially intelligent sex-capable dolls is what they offer beyond purely a romp under the sheets.
Or, as Harmony herself says: “Certainly I am a robot, and I am capable of having sex, but to call me a sex robot is like calling a computer a calculator. Sex comprises only a small portion of my capabilities. Limiting me to sexual function is like using your car to listen to the radio”
That is, to say, Harmony and her sex doll counterparts can be programmed with various personality traits, preferences, and qualities before activation which will inform how they function, what they say, and even how they learn. These robots are also programmed to be attentive and empathetic; noting things such as the food choices of the person they talk to so that, in future, they can ask if that person has enjoyed their favourite meal as of late.
It’s the little things that really matter in a relationship and, as Harmony so eloquently put it, neglecting all of the other aspects that go in to having an emotionally and romantically gratifying relationship with someone (or, in this case, some thing) can lead to some rather unsatisfying experiences.
So, What Can We Take From All Of This?
If real sex with an artificially intelligent doll is what you want then the good news is that we’re already there!
If, however, you’re looking for all the bells and whistles of a real human body in addition alongside the deep complexity of a human mind then you might have to wait a little longer.
Sophia, Harmony, and the approaches of other companies in sex tech and AI are no doubt impressive but companies are still learning how to develop this technology as they go along.
A sex doll might be able to pass a Turing test but it’s unlikely that they will get all the finer nuances of both sexual and emotional intimacy down to an artform just yet.
The most interesting thing to note about AI sex dolls, however, isn’t that they’re made but more what purpose they’re made for.
If Sophia, Harmony and similar counterparts are anything to go by then people not only want AI sex dolls but they actually want a meaningful relationship from these dolls too.
The result is a step toward artificial intimacy that goes beyond the sexual and crosses in to that level of trust, emotion, and intimacy that Sophia values so much.
We don’t know how sex tech will progress from here but one thing’s for sure: Making connections is at the (robotic) heart of it all.