Summary: Sexbots are coming. Here is an introduction to prototypes of the first mass-market models, which will hit society in ten or twenty years with catastrophic effect.
“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
— Attributed to Roy Charles Amara, paraphrased by Robert X. Cringely.
Full size dolls of women have become a real market. Now come sexbots, moving plastic bodies driven by computers. A leaders in this industry is the San Francisco Bay area company Abyss Creations, creator of RealDolls. Go to their website and scroll down the page to see their videos (needless to say, the website is NSFW). Or see Wikipedia.
Some journalists report this as salacious trivia, as they probably laughed at the crude cars from the first automobile companies in the 1890s. Such as the Daily Star: “Sex robots ‘with three boobs’ top of bonk-mad sex fetish demands“. Some cover it as straight news, such as Amanda Devlin at The Sun: “Robot Romps” — “What is a robot sex doll, how much do they cost and will there be sex robot brothels?” Masha Frank at HeatStreet (of Dow Jones) tells the story well — “Inside the Sex Robot Factory: Where Lust Meets Silicone, and Dreams Come True“.
“Real Doll has been one of the biggest silicone sex doll manufacturers in the world for the last 20 years. Boasting the Ferrari of sex dolls with a price tag that starts at $10k, its dolls are fully customizable, hyper realistic and promise to fulfill whatever sexual fantasies you might have. Customers can design the doll of their dreams — from the skin color, body type and hair style, right down to the size of the nipples and color of the fingernails. They can even choose to inject extra gel into the rear — to give it more of a realistic feel and jiggle.
“But Matt McMullen, CEO of Real Doll, has set a new goal: He wants humans to be able to fall in love with their silicone girlfriends, to actually form emotional connections and relationships with them. To give customers this new level of “wholeness,” the company has developed artificial intelligence and robotics and is planning to release the first sex robot. We went to see it for ourselves.
“The robot is given a personality (you get to pick her traits) and the ability to simulate human emotions like joy or jealousy. Owners will be able to control these traits through a special app that comes with the robot. Among some of the dominant traits you can choose from are “kind,” “shy” and “happy.” But there are other options, too — like “annoying” or “insecure.” …They are planning to develop cameras in the eyes, so that the robot will be able to recognize faces. …
“McMullen believes that sex robots will bring more happiness into the world.”
For more detail turn to Luke Dormehl at Digital Trends: “Realdoll is building a fleet of AI-powered sex robots with customizable personalities“, 3 February 2017 — Excerpt.
“…The new system is made up of several components, which will roll out over the course of this year and next. It will begin with the Harmony AI app, scheduled for release on April 15, followed by the company’s “first robotic head systems,” set to launch by the end of the year. A virtual reality platform will ship sometime in 2018. It’s not going to be cheap, mind you: the head alone will set you back $10,000. No pun intended.
“‘We are developing the Harmony AI system to add a new layer to the relationships people can have with a Realdoll,’ Realdoll CEO Matt McMullen told Digital Trends. ‘Many of our clients rely on their imaginations to a great degree to impose imagined personalities on their dolls. With the Harmony AI, they will be able to actually create these personalities instead of having to imagine them. They will be able to talk to their dolls, and the AI will learn about them over time through these interactions, thus creating an alternative form of relationship. The scope of conversations possible with the AI is quite diverse, and not limited to sexual subject matter.'”
Who will build the first mass-market sexbots?
Real Doll might become the first functional sexbot. Or perhaps it will be Samantha, built by Barcelona-based engineer Sergi Santos and available at Syntheaamatus.com (see his creepy video). Or it might be the ‘robot goddess’ Jia Jia (see her video), built by Chen Xiaoping and his team at the University of Science and Technology of China. Perhaps Erica will be the sexbot Model-T Ford, built by team led by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, collaborating with Kyoto University and Japan’s Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR).
More likely sexbots’ R&D will follow the path of automobiles and personal computers, with incremental advances by many engineers, until commercialization and astonishing growth — that catches most by surprise (every time).
Update: “The race to build the world’s first sex robot” by Jenny Kleeman at The Guardian — “The $30bn sex tech industry is about to unveil its biggest blockbuster: a $15,000 robot companion that talks, learns, and never says no.”
Who are the customers for these first-generation sexbots?
Lacking data, we can only guess at the buyers. Here are my guesses. The primary market is men who have little ability to have relationships with women, either due to their bodies (e.g., ugly, obese, deformed), personality quirks (e.g., shyness, perversions), or poverty. Early sexbots will compete with prostitutes, and provide an alternative to chastity for those unable or unwilling to use prostitutes.
As they become more sophisticated, sexbots will compete with low sexual market value women for the attention of men. As sexbot’s mechanics and software improves — slowly at first, than more rapidly than we (most of us) can imagine — over time they will pose serious competition for more and more women.
What happens to society when many men — even more than today — drop out of the rat race, no longer interested in running to get a wife, house, and kinds? With autonomous taxis they won’t need cars. Many will instead save to buy a sleek sexbot. Sexbot, games, sports, booze, and drugs — cheaper than a wife and kids. Much need to strive for career advancement or to accumulate wealth. How many will find that enough for a nice life? See more about that here.
Offsetting this might be women’s lessening interest in relationships with men. Their growing economic independence, as more women move on top of men economically, means they find it less necessary to marry in order to have children. Society’s near-total acceptance of single motherhood removes all other barriers.
So what will the future look like? Who can say? Looking out fifty years, I believe the changes will make those of the past fifty look insignificant.
Videos about the new world now under construction
“Uncanny Lover: Building a Sex Robot” by The New York Times, 11 June 2015.
Demo of Erica, built by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University.
For More Information
- Tech creates a social revolution with unthinkable impacts that we prefer not to see.
- Three unmentionable insights about people, free from Ashley Madison.
- Our scary future: sexbots are coming, powering the ‘sexodus’.
Books about the coming revolution.