Robot Love: Why Romance with Sex Machines Is a Foregone Conclusion

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Sex robots are sold for physical pleasure, but emotionally fulfilling relationships with machines is closer than you may think.

One of the big robotics storylines of 2018, at least in the mainstream press, was the arrival of multiple sex robots on the market. Most of these take a female form, anthropomorphic fantasies like Synthea Amatus’s Samantha and RealBotix’s Harmony, which have raised eyebrows and prompted international coverage, spurred in no small part by boisterous founders and burgeoning rivalries.

Robot brothels, meanwhile, have popped up in Toronto and Paris, and another was barred from doing business in Houston.

Pontificators have pontificated about whether this is a good thing or a sign of a society on the skids, and much of the criticism has (rightly, in my opinion) focused on how these robots represent women, both in appearance and as passive objects of desire.

Almost like clockwork, “male” robots with bionic penises are now on their way.

This was inevitable, of course. The sex tech industry is worth $30B, and sex has long been a driver of technological innovation, from King Edward VII’s kinky sex chair and network connected sex toys with serious security flaws to new forms of participatory VR porn.

The current spate of sex robots are just that, devices for fantasy-fullfilment and physical pleasure, and the technology, frankly, isn’t that much more compelling than non-robotic sex dolls.

But a day is no doubt coming when a robot will leap across the Uncanny Valley and pass muster as a thinking and thoughtful companion.

We often use words like “love” and “obsessed” to describe our connection with gadgets, but from a human standpoint is it even possible to love a machine the same way we can love another person?