The sexbots are coming. But we won’t prepare for them.

Summary: Sexbots are coming, part of the next generation of automation. They’ll bring a future of the mind-blowing kind, for which we will not prepare because we don’t want to see it. This is the first of my posts about this future, posted three years ago.

“{The arrival of sexbots} will blow up the world. It will make crack cocaine look like decaffeinated coffee.”
— Anonymous (source here).

Realbotix – head of a sexbot.

The increased availability and greater verisimilitude of porn has already affected society, providing alternatives for men (and perhaps women) to assuming the burdens of marriage. Those are just foreshocks to the coming of sexbots. Much more powerful than porn, coming with ever-falling prices.  I don’t know what effect sexbots will have on society. But I’ll bet it will be bigger than we can imagine. I suggest we start to think about it.

A vision of the year 2050

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 as paraphrased by Robert X. Cringely.

For a vision of our likely future see “Robots, Men And Sex Tourism” by Ian Yeoman (Assoc Prof Business, Victoria U) and Michelle Mars (sexologist) in Futures, May 2012. It’s gated. Here’s an excerpt, a conservative description of a world where robots have automated prostitution and perhaps to some extent replaced wives and girlfriends.

The Yub-Yum is Amsterdam’s top sex club for business travelers located beside a 17th century canal house on the Singel. It is modern and gleaming with about 100 scantily clad blonde and brunettes parading around in exotic G-strings and lingerie. Entry costs s10,000 for an all inclusive service.

The club offers a full range of sexual services from massages, lap dancing and intercourse in plush surroundings. The Yub-Yum is a unique bordello licensed by the city council, staffed not by humans but by androids.

This situation came about due to an increase in human trafficking in the sex industry in the 2040s which was becoming unsustainable, combined with an increase in incurable STI’s in the city especially HIV which over the last decade has mutated and is resistant to many vaccines and preventive medicines. Amsterdam’s tourist industry is built on an image of sex and drugs. The council was worried that if the red light district were to close, it would have a detrimental effect on the city’s brand and tourism industry, as it seemed unimaginable for the city not to have a sex industry. Sex tourism is a key driver for stag parties and the convention industry.

The Yub-Yum offers a range of sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features. The club is often rated highly by punters on and for the fifth year in a row, in 2049 was voted the world’s best massage parlour by the UN World Tourism Organisation. The club has won numerous technology and innovation awards including the prestigious ISO iRobotSEX award.

The most popular model is Irina, a tall, blonde, Russian exotic species who is popular with Middle Eastern businessmen. The tourists who use the services of Yub-Yum are guaranteed a wonderful and thrilling experience, as all the androids are programmed to perform every service and satisfy every desire.

… The impact of Yub-Yum club and similar establishments in Amsterdam has transformed the sex industry by alleviating all health and human trafficking problems. The only social issues surrounding the club are the resistance from human sex workers who say they can’t compete on price and quality, therefore forcing many of them to close their shop windows. All in all, the regeneration of Amsterdam’s sex industry has been about the success of the new breed of sex worker.

Even clients feel guilt free as they actually haven’t had sex with a real person and therefore don’t have to lie to their partner. … Robot sex is safer sex, free from the constraints, precautions and uncertainties of the real deal.

———————- End excerpt ———————-

How will women respond?

The battle to ban (or severely regulate) sexbots will mark the maximum advance of radical feminism, the point at which widespread opposition halts their increasing grasp of society. So far most prefer not to contemplate the radical effects of affordable sexbots with even minimal functionality. For example, Lauren Davis at i09 asks the small questions typical of articles about sexbots. She doesn’t ask about the extent to which men — and perhaps women — consider sex with robots an acceptable substitute for more complex human relationships.

… would spouses view sex with a robotic partner as cheating, or as a form of masturbation akin to using a vibrator? Would people be more open and honest about paying for sex with robots than they are about paying for sex with humans? If robotic prostitutes could be program specifically for female pleasure, would we see equality between men and women patronizing these automated brothels?

Some technologies for whom porn fueled its early development: microfiche (late 1800’s), bulletin board systems (first generation internet; early 1990s), e-commerce (1990’s), streaming video (early 1990s), webcams (~1995),  subtitles and closed captioning for the hearing impaired, digital cameras, cable television, and video cassette recorders. Also printing and photography. For a fun version turn (as always) to “5 Ways Porn Created the Modern World“.

For a more scholarly review, see “Pornography, Video, and the Internet” by Jonathan Coopersmith, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Spring 2000 (here’s a CNN story about his work). Just to be clear about the relationship see “Pornography Drives Technology” by Peter Johnson, Federal Communications Law Journal, November 1996. Excerpt:

“When new media offer new markets, porn spies them quickly and rushes to fill them, like an amoeba extruding a new pseudopod where its skin is thinnest. …

While the image of a brand-new pseudopod occupied the happy part of my inner matter, I still found the conclusion of his rather interesting study couldn’t be deflowered: “Far from viewing cyberpornographers as pariahs, society would do well to view them as mountain men and women in the mold of Jedediah Smith, who discovered and opened the passes of the Rockies for entire families to follow west.”

See these portents of the future.

For More Information

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

  1. Our scary future: sexbots are coming, powering the ‘sexodus’.
  2. A look at sexbots, prototypes of a radically different future for society.
  3. Technology will shape our society as porn and sexbots destroy 21st century marriage.
  4. Experts look at the future of sexbots and society, but can’t see it.
  5. Reluctant recognition that sexbots are coming.

Visions of the future (often disturbing)

Two trailers, showing Hollywood’s first glances into this future, and testimony from an early adopter. They’re all disturbing, in different ways.

Her (2013).

Ex Machina.


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