Ex Machina and Lars and the Real Girl are two recent movies that have brought attention to where things are heading between humans and robots – particularly as regards the state of the art in sex robots. The NY Times even did a 7-minute video on the subject.
RealDoll, the San Diego company presently marketing sex dolls like the one seen in the movie Lars and the Real Girl, is developing a sex robot that uses sensors and artificial intelligence to create “the illusion of sentience.” The NY Times produced the following video exposé about RealDolls and it's founder Matt McMullen: Uncanny Lover: Building a Sex Robot, which provides a vivid exploration of what we can expect.
Vanity Fair also did a story on RealDoll, Is This the Dawn of the Sexbots? and wrote about the impressions the reporter had while taking a tour of their factory near San Diego and interviewing RealDolls owner, David Mills, who said:
“Modern technology has now progressed to the point where factory-built partners are at least as good as human partners. Not everybody wants to be in a relationship, especially an emotionally draining, costly, anxiety-filled one. If a man says, ‘I don’t want to be in a relationship,’ most of the time that’s probably a good decision! And he can order a RealDoll, which will end up being a helluva lot cheaper than the women he was dating! If a man has a hundred or no girlfriends, RealDolls are a good option no matter what. Women have enjoyed sex toys for 50 years, probably 5,000 years, if the truth be known, but men are still stigmatized! We have to correct that! I want to be the Rosa Parks of sex dolls! Men are not going to sit in the back of the bus anymore!”
Matt McMullen, the CEO and founder of RealDolls, was quoted in Men's Health Magazine as saying that he “thinks it could only take a handful of years before we see a robot capable not just of ultra-realistic sex, but of expressing the illusion of emotions.”
The other big name in U.S. sex robot technology is True Companion, a New Jersey firm selling the RoxxxyGold line of sex bots. [Each company is selling 500+ dolls a year at prices ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.] RoxxxyGold has a base price, before extras, of $6,995—and offers options such as “a heartbeat and a circulatory system” and the ability to “talk to you about soccer.”
True Companion sells a female sex robot named Roxxxy and a male version named Rocky. They are anatomically consistent with a human but buyers have an unusual choice to make: “Your sex robot can either have a conversation or interact physically! It is your choice – do you want to talk or play?”
“True Companion robots have been programmed to be a companion to the owner by learning through its artificial intelligence application the owner’s likes and dislikes. True Companion’s sex robots can hear what you say, speak, feel your touch, move their bodies, are mobile and have emotions and a personality.”
Douglas Hines, the founder and president of True Companion, who formerly worked in the artificial intelligence lab at AT&T Bell Labs, expects that even before the end of this decade, we could have commercially available robot partners that don’t just submit to sexual fantasies but also offer “unconditional love and support.”
Love & Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, the 2007 book by artificial-intelligence expert and international chess champion David Levy, forecast that by 2050 robots “will have the capacity to fall in love with humans and to make themselves romantically attractive and sexually desirable to humans.” Another expert surveyed in a 2014 Pew Research Center report predicted that robot sex partners will be “commonplace” by 2025.
It appears that sex robots are closer to being produced and sold than we might think… perhaps coming to market before the end of this decade.