A look at sexbots, prototypes of a radically different future for society

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.'”

Realbotix - head of a sexbot

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

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about women and gender, about the 3rd Industrial Revolution now under way, and especially these…

  1. Tech creates a social revolution with unthinkable impacts that we prefer not to see.
  2. Three unmentionable insights about people, free from Ashley Madison.
  3. Our scary future: sexbots are coming, powering the ‘sexodus’.

Books about the coming revolution.

Love and Sex with Robots
Available at Amazon.
My Fair Ladies: Female Robots, Androids, and Other Artificial Eves
Available at Amazon.


14 thoughts on “A look at sexbots, prototypes of a radically different future for society”

  1. Love and Sex with Robots was a fascinating book for me to read, though I admit a large section of it was a little redundant. But probably informative for many!

    I have always noticed that almost nothing gets said about the prospects of sexbots, replacement boyfriends, and so on for *women*. Except of course for dear old Isaac Asimov, where I think that is the crux of three of his robot stories. It’s almost felt like a regression in some ways.

  2. Where would be the fun in this model? If you choose the personality characteristics of your bot, all you will get is a reflection of yourself. It really is just a very expensive way to masturbate.
    In any case, the crunch really is coming for a high tech, high energy consumption, high metal and plastic consumption society. We are running out of all sorts of resources – including landfill for the used bots.
    Im sure this will never be as big a deal as is being said here.

    1. Dubius,

      “Where would be the fun in this model? ”

      The comparison is with a prostitute on the street, chastity, or masturbation. None of those offer any sort of relationship, even with “a reflection of yourself.” Even a first-gen sexbot could be competitive for all three.

      Also, chosing a personality does not make it “a reflection of yourself. After all, you choose your spouse. That does make him or her a reflection of yourself.

    2. Fabius Maximus,

      You acknowledge the ability for a human to form a delusional relationship with a first-gen sexbot. And yet you don’t acknowledge the present day existence of people forming a delusional relationship with their “waifu”. For the uninitiated, the waifu is typically an anime character (so, completely virtual), although some people will purchase a full size body pillow print of them.

      People can engage in creative delusional relations with a first-gen sex bot. People can ALSO engage in creative delusional relations with even more primitive technology. And I believe that some people yet can even engage in the same degree of delusion with the women that they’ve seen in the world and recorded into their “spank bank”.

      My expectation is that for most users, first-gen sexbots will be a disappointing interface for masturbation – those who will make the best pleasurable use of them will likely be those who have already been making the best use out of wanking.

      1. Salviahardon,

        “And yet you don’t acknowledge the present day existence of people forming a delusional relationship with their “waifu”.”

        That’s because this is a narrowly focused thousand-word note about one specific phenomenon — not the Britannica or a statement of the Cosmic All. There are billions of things I “don’t acknowledge”.

        “My expectation is that for most users, first-gen sexbots will be a disappointing interface for masturbation”

        Wow. That’s an awesome case of missing the point. First-gen new tech usually has a small market, whether cars or personal electronics. I’ll bet that “for most users, first-gen microwave ovens were a disappointing” aid for cooking.

        “In 1947, Raytheon built the “Radarange”, the first commercially available microwave oven. It was almost 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) tall, weighed 340 kilograms (750 lb) and cost about US$5,000 ($54,000 in 2016 dollars) each. It consumed 3 kilowatts, about three times as much as today’s microwave ovens, and was water-cooled.” {Wikipedia.}

        Try re-reading the article and you might get a clearer view of the future.

  3. Dubius Anonymuus

    Microwave ovens are still a disappointing option for cooking, and between leakage of microwaves and the destruction of vitamins and nutrients they are also highly unsatisfactory.

    I really doubt that any sex bot could have any real personality to have even a pretend relationship. Real humans, whether they be a regular partner, a casual partner or even a sex worker will always be more complex, more challenging, more infuriating and more entertaining than any “sexbot” could possibly be. Real humans will be more likely to come up with innovations that just cant be programmed in to any machine, and real humans always have the right and the capacity to decide to put their own interests first and that you (their partner) are being a pain in the neck, and should be abandoned.

    Now this is exactly where the whole sexbot thing hits a glass ceiling- because the moment we create a robot of any sort that has the capacity to put its own interests first, then we have a problem- a potential robot revolution. Either that, or we limit that potential and we are stuck with fancy masturbation aids.

    I also stand by my comment that the economy will not, in the medium term, be able to support such expensive toys.

    1. Dubious,

      You are expending a great deal of energy to avoid seeing reality. Keep those eyes closed, or you might see things that disturb you!

      “Microwave ovens are still a disappointing option for cooking”

      The question here is not are sexbots or microwave ovens your idea method of whatever, but their degree of market “penetration”. In five decades microwave ovens radically changed food preparation in America. In five decades sexbots might have a large effect on gender relations in America.

      “I really doubt that any sex bot could have any real personality”

      You’re really determined to miss the point. The next few generations of sexbots are mostly alternatives to celibacy and prostitutes.

      “because the moment we create a robot of any sort that has the capacity to put its own interests first”

      We’re talking evolution of sexbots during the next few decades. You’re watching too much Star Trek.

  4. Well, this is a perfect solution for a left brained, almost autistic culture. Sex is more about affection and empathy than the actual act (though there’s nothing wrong with that) .
    Such commodities cannot be supplied through a robot. they do not have the necessary wiring- and cannot.

    1. Mind body,

      Despite your disapproval, prostitution has been an aspect of most societies larger than tribes for all of recorded history. It’s seldom about “empathy and affection.”

      I suggest you talk to some sex workers to gain broader insights.

      Sexbots will bridge the gap between the two omnipresent domains of prostitutes and sex toys (e.g., dildos).

      1. Larry, I have both talked to many prostitutes in my role as the doctor doing their STD checks, and used their services when my marriage broke down and I was in need of company.
        Our system in Australia is very different to the US-. Over here it is legalised, safe and usually done in parlours with multiple workers.

        The transaction effectively starts with the worker trying to attract your interest by being friendly.
        The transaction is also defined by the parameters of normal human physiology- and to anyone with half a right brain it is obvious when you are having the right effect on the woman.
        It is the rule rather than the exception that sex workers get and value repeat business as do their clients.

        My disapproval is not of prostitution (as N. Taleb said, it is one of the few honest trades/professions), and it is certainly more therapeutic than seeing a counsellor or psychiatrist.

        My disapproval is of the frankly idiotic idea that a very expensive sex doll with a few mechanical frills could ever be worthwhile. Look at it this realistically- very high cost- the manufacturers being the pimps in this case.

        Oh and the other thing- many many men are insecure about their attractivenesss or their performance. Sex workers can and do help people with this. They are almost always highly empathic or they would not be able to be close to people that much. It is true that some are the victims of childhood sexual abuse- but that is far from the majority.

        PS the real secret is that you pay for an hour and talk for most of it.

      2. What a classic reply, showing fantastic ignorance of modern history.

        “My disapproval is of the frankly idiotic idea that a very expensive sex doll with a few mechanical frills could ever be worthwhile. Look at it this realistically- very high cost- the manufacturers being the pimps in this case.”

        That has been said of pretty much every new consumer tech – from microwave ovens to cell phones. The first version has high price and limited functionality and high price.

        The early versions are bought by early adopters. People who either like cutting-edge tech or have special needs the tech meets – and the money to pay for it.

        If the tech works and meets needs, it moves along the price-volume-performance curse. Eventually it seems natural, even inevitable.

        “They are almost always highly empathic…”

        That’s hilarious. Street walkers give bj’s in alleys, or prostitutes working in cribs in a brothel – empathy isn’t part of the package.

        “the real secret is that you pay for an hour and talk for most of it.”

        It’s not a secret to people who get out occasionally. Not even surprising. It’s a function sexbots probably will be able to fulfill soon. ELIZA was able to do this on a very low level in 1964. Software in 2034 probably be able to do it pretty well – enough to find a market, esp with even a crude physical simulacra.


      3. My disapproval is of the frankly idiotic idea that a very expensive sex doll with a few mechanical frills could ever be worthwhile. Look at it this realistically- very high cost- the manufacturers being the pimps in this case.

        Well it depends. Can this robot can also pick my socks up off the floor?

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