sex & Love & Robots

They are perfectly-crafted; incredibly beautiful, and a little … unnerving. This alludes crucial questions: How far can the attachment to an inanimate, synthetic person go? Can someone live “happily ever after” with a doll?

Is beauty, not to mention reality, all in the eye of the beholder?

As the landscape of human relationships in the twentieth century has seen interactions move from the real world into the digital, we may soon see sexual interaction reduced to machined pleasure as masses become dominated by the mechanistic.

With the all-encompassing digital world of social media, online dating, and porn, as well as the increasing acceptance of new varieties of relationship arrangements, it is vital to analyze not only evolving attitudes but also the effects of the alternatives we are creating.

While our sexuality is becoming ever more divorced from emotion and intimacy, current analysis and cultural discussion are going to be vital.

Human sexuality will continue to be commodified and mechanized, as other aspects of our lives.

Gender identity will become less important as we become independent of traditional binary relationships.

As more and more of our interactions take place with non-human partners, the expectations and opinions of other people will become less relevant, leading to greater gender fluidity and far less stigma about one’s gender identity or how one chooses to express one’s self.

The availability of sex dolls may exacerbate interpersonal problems, especially for shy young men, by enabling them to avoid confronting social issues, and using sex dolls may reinforce objectification and exploitation of women — much like the concern of the anti-pornography movement and their campaign against adult films.

Considering most of the sex’ dolls are small-waisted, large-breasted, and tiny-featured does little to detract from the impression their clients have some pretty narrow conceptions of female beauty.

Sex dolls, for some, may be more appealing than relationships with other human beings from the one-sided nature of the interaction.

Could this threaten our capacity for intimacy and attachment?
What are the consequences should we abandon relationships with other humans for the perfect fantasy of a synthetic partner?

The feeling of intimacy with a sex doll would presumably be 100% projection, and relationships with sex dolls and virtual reality partners could foreclose on taking the emotional risks inherent in relationships with other human beings, providing a too-easy answer for loneliness.

Given most people not on board with the idea of using sex dolls, let alone having relationships with humanoid robots, we can expect a clash as these technologies become ubiquitous and regulated, mirroring the tension between progressive and conservative factions surrounding other controversial subjects.

People who see sexual intercourse before marriage as wrong are much less likely to be open to, or understanding of, using sex dolls or humanoid robots, versus those who believe sex before marriage is OK for people in love, or for those who believed sex for pleasure is OK.

For some, a synthetic relationship is more appealing than traditional ones.

Many women and men already find conventional sex toys preferable to the many drawbacks associated with standard relationships. Our sexuality is becoming ever more divorced from emotion and intimacy.

Unlike real men or women, a sex doll can’t revoke consent or express anger or say no to their partners’ requests, meaning they make an ideal partner for someone unwilling or unable to treat others as a sexual equal.

Of course, it’s this fantasy element makes many so uncomfortable about the dolls. Judeo-Christian beliefs state only God can give life, and false copies of human beings are an abomination.

Is the growing interest in sex dolls a sign of a widespread deterioration in human relationships?

As the technology improves, society will continue to grow ever more fragmented. Ongoing research and cultural debate will be more and more important in helping us understand how we are changing ourselves, and the potential impact.

Social media, online dating, pornography, increasing acceptance of new kinds of relationship arrangements, and so on it is important to keep track not only of changing attitudes but also of how the choices we are making are having positive and negative effects.

Following the collapse of the consumerist, competitive mindset now dominates so much of human thought, we’d be free to rebuild a social world more maintaining our pre-agricultural origins, characterized by economies built upon sharing and not hoarding, a politics of respect and not of power and a sense of intimacy and not alienation.

Before long it will be commonplace for people to have intimate relationships with both human beings and humanoid robots, for those who wish to do so. Witness the growing market for VR sex games, where one can build an ideal partner to one’s exact specifications, and treat it as abusively or as lovingly as desired, without repercussions but taking a toll on the players.

The lines separating sex toys and the internet will continue to blur. Pornography will become more refined.

Robot lovers who say the perfect things and share the right kinks will become commonplace.

The fusion of sex toys and the Internet will continue, making today’s mutual masturbation over Skype seem innocent and primitive. The technology of pornography will become ever more advanced even if pornographic content remains as primal as ever. Like every other aspect of human life, our sexuality will become mediated by technology.

Lovers on opposite sides of the world will control each other’s pleasure with the click of a mouse or the toggling of a joystick.

Although most of the market is single men, as you might expect about 50 percent of the market is couples who might want the fantasy of group play but are averse to the notion of inviting another partner into bed. In such cases, the doll will often be a transgender female doll with a removable penis, so both partners can play with it.

The most surprising thing about the tight-knit doll community is how little they’re interested in using the dolls purely for one-on-one sexual purposes. They’re open about their relationships with the dolls, posting lengthy narratives and photo sets with them online, featuring elaborate backstories and personalities for each.

The reasons why men buy sex dolls are incredibly complex and multifaceted: Some might use them as a status symbol, while others strictly for utility.

If you’re a random guy who has a hard time making connections with people, you buy a doll and not only is she your companion, but you have found community in the other people like you in the doll forums.

Sex dolls are also popular among recent widowers, many of whom don’t feel comfortable transitioning into dating. They want someone to watch TV with when they’re home alone. So they buy the doll and it lives on the couch and it lies on their laps when they watch TV. In those cases, in six months to a year you’ll see the doll up for resale because their owners feel relaxed, they’re ready to reenter the dating pool.

As is the case with one man suffering from terminal brain cancer, the doll can outlive its owner, and he’s been searching for a buyer to “rehome” the doll, as one would a pet. After reaching out to another collector who said he could make room for the doll, the man refused. He said, ‘No, no one just makes room for this doll.’ He wants to make sure she goes somewhere where someone can appreciate her.

With good care, the dolls can last anywhere between 10 and 20 years — longer than many human relationships. What people don’t understand is, it’s not about a man with a doll… it’s about a man, with a doll, in a community where he is not alone.

What happens is a man goes looking for a doll and in this community, he ends up finding himself.