Sexbot slaves

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Sexbot slaves

Sexbot Roxxxy can take on preprogrammed personas, such as ‘Mature Martha’, ‘Young Yoko’ or ‘Frigid Farrah’. Photo courtesy

Thanks to new technology, sex toys are becoming tools for connection - but will sexbots reverse that trend?

Leah Reich is has a background in sociology and writes about people and relationships in the cross-section of culture and technology. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic and The Awl, among others.

1900 1,900 words
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There is only one true sexbot that you can go out and buy today. Her name is Roxxxy, and she is a ‘robot companion’ intended to look human, or something very close. She’s 5’7” and slender. She’s got a wide range of hair and eye colours. And depending on the model you choose, she can ‘hear’ you, ‘talk’ to you, and ‘feel’ you.

First introduced in 2010 after nearly a decade of development, the Roxxxy line now includes RoxxxyGold, RoxxxySilver, and RoxxxyPillow, as well as Rocky. Only RoxxxyGold comes equipped with a ‘personality,’ although RoxxxySilver will talk during sex. RoxxxyPillow, the least expensive model, is only the torso, head, and three ‘inputs’ – vagina, anus, and mouth. Unlike the other models, which are full-sized, RoxxxyPillow can be tucked away discreetly when not in use.

Roxxxy is decidedly a robot. Unlike some of the gynoids and actroids, Roxxxy does not quite produce the ‘uncanny valley’ effect, where a robot is so close to being human but different enough to create a feeling of revulsion. Roxxxy is mannequin-like, and comes with her very own personality. While she likes the same things as her owner, she has moods too, and can sometimes get sleepy. She can also take on additional preprogrammed characteristics, such as ‘Mature Martha’, ‘Young Yoko’ or ‘Frigid Farrah’. Young Yoko is aged just over 18, but she’s inexperienced and wants to learn, whereas Mature Martha can show her owner the ropes. Wild Wendy is up for anything, while Frigid Farrah needs a lot of coaxing.

What are these interactions like, in practice? Stilted, to be sure, but also surprisingly detailed. Take Mature Martha, for example. She talks to you in an empty robotic voice that sounds a little like a mix between Siri and MacinTalk Victoria. She has the base personality – a mature woman who's got a lot of professional experience and "erotic experience." But she'll talk to you about your specific interests, too. If you're into golf, she's into golf. Love Maseratis? Nothing turns her on more. Martha's purpose, just like Young Yoko or S&M Susan or Wild Wendy or Frigid Farrah's purpose, is to provide more than just sex. She's there as a True Companion, to talk to you before and after sex, or maybe in place of it if you're not in the mood. She's there waiting for you to connect with her.

The personalities offered by Roxxxy are crude types, but they are instructive, insofar as they tell us what sexbots are likely to proliferate, especially as the technology to customise them becomes more sophisticated. In a few decades time, sexbots might be as commonplace as vibrators. We’d do well to start thinking about what they might mean for human culture.

Where did the sexbot come from? Humans have been using sex toys of various sorts for tens of thousands of years. The oldest known dildo is more than 20,000 years old, dating back to the Upper Paleolithic era. Unlike Roxxxy, it is made of siltstone. Dildos, vibrators, penis rings, anal beads: these have been with us, and in us, for a good long time. Computer-driven sex toys and teledildonics – those that combine telepresence and sex – date back to the mid 1970s, but they serve the same purpose as previous sex tech. They provide intimate pleasure and exploration, sexual stimulation, and in some cases, a window into one’s identity.

Before they were called ‘sex toys’, doctors used vibrators as medical devices. Midwives and occasionally physicians treated female illnesses such as hysteria through a type of masturbation referred to euphemistically as ‘pelvic massage’. For centuries, they performed this massage by manual stimulation. The first vibrator was introduced in France in 1734 but it was not until the late 1800s, with the steam-powered and electromechanical vibrators, that doctors had any mechanical alternative to using their hands. As difficult and cumbersome as the steam-powered machine was to use, many doctors were grateful for it just the same, given the effort manual stimulation required.

In 1902, Hamilton Beach Brands filed a patent that enabled them to sell vibrators directly to consumers, rather than only as a medical device. With this patent, the vibrator became the fifth electrified domestic appliance, beaten only by the sewing machine, the fan, the tea kettle, and the toaster. The vibrator was still advertised as a health and medical device but, in the 1920s, the sexual use of vibrators became more explicit through pornography.

In subsequent decades, vibrators tended toward two main shapes: sleek insertable dildo-style vibrators and external wand massagers. The wand massager, made famous by the Hitachi Magic Wand, was widely marketed as a health device for ‘gentle massage within the home’, with the nudge-nudge, wink-wink of its most popular use as the Cadillac of vibrators simply implied. Demand for a sex toy that provided clitoral stimulation — without which most women cannot orgasm — led to the creation of the Rabbit vibrator in the 1990s, a style that features both an insertable phallus shape and an external attachment with two vibrating rabbit ears.

Some even have sensors built into their breasts and genitals, in order to respond sexually, but they are not built for sex specifically. At least not yet

There is now a wide variety of vibrators and sex toys available for women and for men. Beyond the traditional shapes and types, remote-controlled vibrators, multispeed and customisable vibrators, and the Rabbit's Ina model: a smooth and contoured dual-stimulation vibrator that no longer has playful animal shapes but instead looks vaguely sculptural. Then there are smart toys and machines such as the Bluetooth WorldVibe vibrator, with shareable vibration patterns and an app that controls the device, and the Limon, which uses ‘squeeze technology’ that allows one partner to squeeze the toy, programming it to a personalised rhythm and pressure the other can enjoy. There’s also Vibease, the ‘world’s first wearable smart vibrator’, which is controlled by an app on either iPhone or Android. One partner can wear the vibrator inside her underwear and the other, regardless of where she or he is, can control it.

There are toys for men too, although unlike toys for women, which straddle solo and partner play, heterosexual men’s toys are largely masturbatory devices. There is the Fleshlight, a sleeve of ‘flesh-like’ material housed inside a fake plastic flashlight. Remove the cap and the top of the material is shaped like a vagina, an anus, or a mouth, ready to be lubricated and penetrated. Or there’s the Soloflesh Personal Satisfaction Device, a sex toy shaped like a floating pair of buttocks with a vagina; just fill it with warm water and it’s ready for sex.

From there, things shade into something more sexbot-like, such as FriXion, which uses sensors and robotic accessories to assist in remote-controlled sex. The robot appendages use haptic technology, which allows users to grip or penetrate their partners across long distances, with touch not words. There are also chatbots that can emulate human conversation, by responding to your cues: they’ll ask if you’re into big tits, and tell you: ‘I’m feeling a little naughty ;)’.

But apart from Roxxxy, there are almost no examples of actual sexbots in existence. There are human-like robots, particularly the actroids from Japan, of which Project Aiko is perhaps the best-known example. These robots have been created to be the ideal girlfriend or the perfect secretary, and they do speak and respond to human touch. Some even have sensors built into their breasts and genitals in order to respond sexually, but they are not built for sex specifically. At least, not yet.

‘Right now, we’re at an inflection point on the meaning of sexbot,’ says Kyle Machulis, the California-based world expert on sex technology. ‘Tracing the history of the term will lead you to a fork: robots for sex (idealised version: Jude Law in the movie AI), and people that fetishise being robots (clockworks, etc). There was a crossover of these in the days of, but I see less and less people fetishising the media/aesthetics, and more talking about actually having sex with robots.’

Some of the newest and most intriguing sex technology veers away from traditional sex toys in a particular way: it is based around sharing and connecting. A vibrator is an individual’s device that can be shared, but some of the newest forms of sex tech were created with the express intent of sharing. By and large, teledildonics and sexbots are made for and marketed either to couples or to men. Almost none are marketed directly to women, which means that the way we create and view sex technology is being filtered through a very particular perspective: a heterosexual male one.

Much of the discourse around emerging sex tech is male-focused. Roxxxy’s roots were in the recreation of a friend lost in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, but she has grown into a sexbot who exists to match and please her owner. Some find this servitude unobjectionable, because AI is still very much not human. But what if we think about sex technology and sexbots as part of a shared experience? What if we work to program these sexbots so that they are not simply objects to control and swap like livestock, but beings with whom to share intimacy? Sex toys have had to emerge from the shadows of female hysteria, sexual dysfunction, and shame. Should sexbots be created with the seeds of their own stigma built in?

we are programming them to be like a specific type of person: the type of woman who can be owned by a man

Perhaps the best-known work on intimate relationships with robots is by the British author, chessmaster, and CEO of Intelligent Toys Ltd, David Levy. Most of the discussion regarding the ethics of robot sex centres on his article ‘The Ethics of Robot Prostitutes’ from Robot Ethics (2011), wherein he separates types of sexbots according to their sophistication. Levy argues that as long as sexbots are artefacts, without ‘artificial consciousness’, there are no ethical implications in having sex with them or using them for prostitution. However, should sexbots attain artificial consciousness, Levy argues there may be both legal and ethical implications not only for humans but for the robots themselves. But even if sexbots are not currently conscious, they do have the external markings of personhood, and we are programming them to be person-like. Indeed, we are programming them to be like a specific type of person: the type of woman who can be owned by a heterosexual man.

If women are the model on which most sexbots are based, we run the risk of recreating essentialised gender roles, especially around sex. And that would be too bad, because sex technology has the potential to alleviate longstanding human problems, for both men and women. Sex tech can help us take on sexual dysfunction and profound loneliness, but if we simply create a new variety of second-class citizen, a sexual creature to be owned, we risk alienating ourselves from each other all over again.

Read more essays on computing & artificial intelligence, gender & sexuality and sexual health


  • daltonimperial

    Interesting subject matter that really doesn't address the issue of how sex bots could affect human relationships (the title from my RSS feed was "How will sexbots change the way we relate to one another?", which is obviously different from this, so maybe that was never the author's intended subject matter): can they also be used to supplement an existing relationship or will there be those who view sexbots (assuming a lack of consciousness/A.I. beyond sexual services) as their "significant other"? Would the latter be more likely to occur as the AI develops to become closer to being human (or even achieving such status)?

    As for the last few paragraphs...

    1- Is there any reason Roxxxy wouldn't respond to a homosexual female?

    2- The second paragraph mentions a "Rocky" version of the sexbot, presumably one with male attributes designed "to be like a specific type of person: the type of [man] who can be owned by a heterosexual [woman]." Why would this be different than Roxxxy being owned by a man?

    3- Assuming this is true, why are women the model on which most sexbots are based? Are heterosexual men more likely to be designers? Does research suggest heterosexual men are more likely purchasers? Would heterosexual women have similar demand for a comparable male version (the aforementioned Rocky)?

    4- Mostly sidestepping the issue on whether sex bots at present are person-like because they have the external markings of personhood (a snowman does not become a person just because it is given clothes and a hat, nor does my flash drive change because it looks like Sheldon Cooper), could this be an improvement in that at least it represents that a whole other "person" can be involved in the sexual activity, as opposed the inflatable version of a vagina or dildos just providing a penis? Perhaps a sex bot could help serve as a bridge for someone who is not confident sexually and wants to have some experience before trying the activity with the flesh and blood person about whom he/she cares.

    If you're going to bring up gender issues, at least address them thoroughly; this just felt tacked on at the end.

    • CM

      Agreed that the gender issues side of this should be explored more thoroughly. Sexism and misogyny has literally been around for thousands of years, and its unrealistic to think that it wouldn't show up in this industry, but I see some upsides. I think there's a strong chance that these robots might satisfy the heterosexual male misogynists of the world and reduce their anger (or at least sexual harassment) towards real-life women. This could be a perfect way to give misogynists what they want (a female presence who is essentially a shadow of her "owner"-obediant, submissive and without her own mind/life) in a way that leaves real life women alone (less domestic violence, rape within relationships, and so on). That would definitely be an upside to and that should be explored.

      • Anarcissie

        There are a few things robots will probably not be able to do, and one of them is feel pain. Thus, they will not be very interesting to serious sadists.

        • Linda

          khmm, BDSM industry will make them act they feel - the haptic technology will make them differ touches - and react the desirable way. if they can "react" to a "normal vanilla" sex, then why couldn't they be programmed to "react" to BDSM.. demand and supply rules?

          • Anarcissie

            The sadist would know that the robot was not actually feeling pain. For some, that might not matter, but for many I think it would be a crucial (heh) difference.

            There are also people who only enjoy sex if they think the other party or parties is/are getting pleasure out of it -- a similar problem.

            And the two sets intersect somewhat, which could make programming the sex robots pretty tricky.

          • Linda

            Oh, well. Do we take for fully granted that AI can't have no emotions at all? What then it h a s? Ok, a huge set of programmed reactions, which are organized in a way to mimic our neural networks.
            But aren't those reactions t r u e for the robot?

            IMHO it is possible to program artificial conscience, only the task is far more difficult. Of course, this is the point of sci-fi and philosophers' debates - can we define the AI as a person with a kind of conscience.
            This issue also lies in the core of above mentioned ethical dilemmas (robot rights, robot porn, abuse etc). Maybe there soon will be a robot-surogacy, too?

            My point is, that it is something similar as with cosmetic surgery..implanted hips, breasts, lips.. some can accept it, some say - it's not real. Then others answer - so what, it works and so far I don't care.
            And I think that such people will be many enough to create a sufficient demand for "BDSM-personality" or "LGBT" robots and they will appear.

            I think it is possible to create personalities, which are so diversive and spontaneous in their behavior, that for average-statistic-user it will suit.

          • Linda

            one person here said:
            "Artificial intelligence has gotten far enough along -- with AI Minds
            thriving in English, in German and in Russian -- that robots will soon
            achieve de-facto personhood. Then it will be hard to deny these
            robot-persons the right to marry, to hold property, and to bequeath what
            they own to spouses and other robots."

          • Anarcissie

            One problem is that we don't know what consciousness is. Eventually it ought to be possible completely mimic the behavior of any animals, including humans, but we won't know whether it is conscious or not. (I can make a machine for you right now that will tell you it's conscious, but you are unlikely to believe it.) So the question will come down to what people believe in. Those who can believe that machines can suffer will be able to enjoy BDSM with them, and those who can't, won't.

            I suppose some people might enjoy performing simulated torture of robots for its own sake, even knowing it was merely simulated. They might even enjoy it more, because their consciences were untroubled.

            This leads to the question of whether simulated rape, torture, and murder will raise legal questions. It is already illegal in some places to have or look at pictures and films of people having sex with children, even when the images are clearly constructed rather than recorded from real situations (for example, drawings or CGI). I imagine pedophilic robots would also be forbidden.

          • Linda

            "So the question will come down to what people believe in." Yes, agree.
            OK, I'll shift from the BDSM theme a little bit. I can't say anything important about it no more.
            And the same thing about different emotional believings, I suppose, will occur in human romantic relationships in that "lovematics" era. Here already had the question risen: "Is a sex with a robot a cheating"? Well - one thing are legal questions, but another - how society will handle this? Robot doesn't "feel", but the human who is involved - does.. is it the same thing about being jealous to partner's sex toys - or isn't? Some people think the limbic system of our brain is too simple to not to involve and develop romantic feelings - although irrational - towards an physically alike AI. Some say - it's technical sex. There won't be one truth for all, I suppose, and that also makes the legal questions so ambiguous.

          • Anarcissie

            There is the philosophical question of how any of us know anyone else is conscious, sentient, and so on, and in what way, even when we are encountering another human. Some of this seems to be genetically programmed, and people who lack the ability to sense others' perceptions and feelings (empathy) are generally considered to have a (possibly physical) mental defect. But even with these intuitions doing the heavy lifting, clearly a certain amount of faith is required, because we don't directly experience other people's experiences. However, people also believe in things that definitely aren't so, sometimes even when they know they aren't so; they can quite upset at the representation of a character they know is fictional suffers or dies. I guess I can see some chance for highly emotional relationships with sexbots. It does seem kind of weird, though, like people who have highly emotional relationships with dolls, pictures, email pseudos, and the like. Sometimes we think there's something wrong with them.

          • Linda

            I don't know..psychiatry and various schools of psychotherapy says it is a way how to cope with a multitude varieties of maladaptation and that is it. How a partner of such an individual handles this - is left up to him/herself.
            But maybe the most weird altogether will be the legislative implementation of sexbots and court cases - like now with transgender issues, I suppose. It is sometimes paradoxical funny how the rigid language of laws and paragraphs is trying to interpret all this stuff and, moreover, defend some interests..
            and also it can be tragical.
            For example, if a man fails to set any romantic relationships with 'real' people and wants to cohabitate with such a robot, has he rights to adopt children?

          • Anarcissie

            I don't think anyone has a literal right to adopt children. They have a right not to be discriminated against as a category (for example Gay people), but an inability to establish relationships with other humans would probably be seen as an important disability. As to people cohabiting with robots, one could employ sufficiently sophisticated robots in a number of (hopefully) non-sexual roles, like babysitting and housework. (They would have to be more complex than sexbots whose behavioral repertoires were limited to sex acts and idle chit-chat, however.) The babysitting part is an interesting question. Given the inattentiveness of many parents, the child could develop a serious emotional attachment to the robot, or robots in general. You would think that would have happened already with television, but the television can't bring the child milk and cookies, pet its little head, and kiss it good-night.

          • kiljoy616

            Why cheat when you don't really need to have a full time partner and imagine when artificial wombs are possible. To really look at this you have to step out of today small minded human and think of a society in say 200 years which has no concept of the retarded stuff people believe today.

          • kiljoy616

            Humans are not much different, we really are just not that free to act at all like we want. People for the most part are pre-programmed by their genes and society around them. That we are more complicated than a robot of today does not mean much for the future.

        • kiljoy616

          Not like the sadist will be able to tell, the monkey brain will believe it if the robot is acting realistic. Give it time someone will figure it out and make billions.

  • dwpittelli

    There are other moral issues of sex robots mentioned only implicitly here. Like what if the robot appears to be underage? If an artificial image can be kiddie porn, can a rubber sculpture? And regardless of the law, would the legal and semi-open use of child sex dolls lead to more child molestation? (Or perhaps less?) And what about ordering a custom sex doll that looks like a real person you're obsessed with having sex with -- an ex-girlfriend, Michelle Obama, your sister? Or a sex doll goat? Ethicists need to get to work before it's too late!

    • beachcomber

      Nice thinking!

    • Ellie K

      A goat? Lol! Lol again.

      • BlueBoomPony

        Oh, god, don't give the Goat Simulator developers any ideas.

    • BlueBoomPony

      RealDoll has a couple models with licensed looks from real porn stars.

      • dwpittelli

        Yes. I don't find "Seka's Pussy" such a controversial concept, mostly because she's probably voluntarily contracted for it. But what about Sarah Palin's, Hillary Clinton's, or Gloria Steinem's?

        • NoSacredCow

          Ok I gotta say ewww. Dude you're going down a dark road.

        • Anchovy Rancher

          What trumps them? "Granny" from The Beverly Hillbillies?

          This conversation got weird, fast. I knew it would.

    • Good Stuff

      Every year scientists and engineers are making advances in miniaturize sensors but there's one aspect of this phenomenon to which a lot of enlighten people have given a good bit of thought. Is having sex with an ultra-realistic robot hooker cheating?

      So... Is having sex with an ultra-realistic robot hooker cheating?

      For my own part, yes and no. Do I look at that old robot on 'Lost In Space' waving its tentacular arms around and get all hot and bothered? No. Not hardly. Now when I look at the image of Jeri Ryan playing the infamous borg, Seven-of-Nine on Star Trek Voyager? You better believe it! Just don't tell my wife!

  • Tristessa

    Unless Robeccah can say no, what is the point?…males seek conquest, females honorable submission.

    • BlueBoomPony

      Not everyone conforms to your shallow stereotypes. Sometimes a person just want some good sex.

  • Susan B. Guccione

    Women should ask themselves why they have spent half a century making themselves less desireable than robots.

    • sway


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    • rsanchez1

      Maybe they simply no longer want to be desirable, which is fine. Robots are filling the niche.

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      • Donna Domme

        Trust me we women want to be desirable but not all the time.
        And more often than not the desirability decision hinges on a man's looks and/or wealth.

        • kiljoy616

          In other words we get what we pay for? lol

  • tetriminos

    what about a sex robot that looks like a robot ? a robot that looks and behaves like a human strikes me as ' desperate '

    • Ellie K

      I think that would be a much better idea. Not the wings ;o) per se but some thing that doesn't look or behave like a human at all. It does seem less desperate.

      • BlueBoomPony

        Like the green women from Star Trek? Fantasy creatures of some sort? Sounds expensive.

        • Ellie K

          Probably comparable in cost to that goat simulator you mentioned ;o) Seriously, I wasn't thinking of the green women from Star Trek nor the blue alien lady from Farscape. The point is that unless a very close facsimile can be created, it might be better to go for un-apologetically robot looking. Unless the intent is for companionship as well as sex?

        • Donna Domme

          So were VCR's and DVD players at one time.
          Eventually men will have the choice to spend the money on dating a real woman hoping to get laid, or spending the same amount of money on a software upgrade, assuming it isn't available as a Torrent download already.

    • Donna Domme

      Why do you have a different standard to a sexbot than you do a dildo?
      The only difference between them is mechanics.

  • Pedro Tentugal

    So the article was about the problem this woman has with sexual toys oriented for men and not what was described on the title. Much of the sex toys bought are for women so why is it misogyny to have more toys for man? I believe you should have kept to the title and discuss if the tips in general help or not a relationship.

    • BlueBoomPony

      Because anything for men is evil. That's the new mantra in humanity's endless quest for enlightenment in all the wrong places.

  • polistra24

    Won't change relationships at all. People who have relationships (i.e. attractive and impressive people) won't need sexbots. People who don't have relationships (i.e. unattractive and unimpressive people) might want sexbots.

    • PPXXX

      Today I learned that only attractive and "impressive" people have relationships. Good to know.

  • BlueBoomPony

    Trying to give a robot personality is stupid. People want sex from a sexbot. It's right there in the name. It's the same reason people go to escorts even if they don't need to. Charlies Sheen (I think) put it best. You're not paying her for sex. You're paying her to not expect anything more. With a sexbot you get safety from disease and the possibility you're exploiting someone.

    Get to work on the mechanical and visual side, engineers. Forget the fake pillow talk. Make the sex wild and crazy.

  • David Whitney

    Dear Leah --

    You're doing great so far, now keep thinking.

    It's not just about how humans will interact with sexbots, it's how humans will interact with each other when sexbots are ubiquitous and cheap.

    1. What is the impact on pure human on human sex?

    2. What intermediate levels are possible (i.e. remote control sexbots that may or may not give remotely controlled feedback to the controller)?

    3. Is sex with a bot cheating? Is it actually sex?

    Please please please somebody's got to take the initiative and get ahead of the rest of the pack. Why not you?

  • Anna

    One point they didn't address in the article; how long until these things are considered citizens, etc, and get rights. Then it's all fucked up. I don't believe the intend to go so far with the personalities maybe it's just away to keep the party satisfied sexually for example Frigid Farah. Maybe the men who use that program enjoy the thrill of "the hunt" rather than someone who is always ready. That being said customer may change because of these new developments. fear they may want more(as is always the case) And become complacent indeed. I mean why work for a relationship and deal with rejection and humiliation and heartache when you have a quiet, subservient woman in your closet who is willing to please you however you desire =/

  • NoSacredCow

    They have a long way to go. Let me know when it's Westworld level. (sans the malfunctioning robots of course)

  • Jamie Paul Bennett

    With prostitution illegal in all states BUT Nevada, women just DON'T get that men need need to let it go to kill the stress before they kill someone to get it.
    When it comes to sex men DON'T need 2 hours of foreplay we can be in and out in 5 minutes happy as a clam and the day goes on.
    Yet women will be the front runners on stopping prostitution for equal rights and just as loud at rape.
    I can bet you with sex dolls and prostitution you will see rape drop and marriages saved.
    The chrisitans will cry out yet they are the ones watching porn the most and they are the ones occupying most of the jail/prison cells to boot.
    First marijuana then prostitution, since the government WON'T spend any money on helping out the rapists but will spend billions locking them up, I guess we'll have to do this ourselves.
    Oh and prostitution is NOT degrading to women if they chose to do it. If you think that way then we should get rid of plumbers who have to stand in shit and piss to unclog YOUR over eating habits. Not to mention a safe and regulated trade bringing in billions of tax dollars.
    For all of you women think about this for a second. You won't put out does he go to his doll, prostitute, mistress...............or rape you?

    • Scott Anderson

      Five minutes? Who are you, Superman?

    • Bakari Kamau

      I am not an animal who will rape and kill for sex. You don't need sex if that's your thinking, you need mental help.

      • Jamie Paul Bennett

        Your the ones whos assuming that I would do such a thing why don't you consider mental help. Or do you not know how this discussion works, throwing out ideas to be questioned.....not judged.

  • ChrisinCT

    "Levy argues that as long as sexbots are artefacts,
    without ‘artificial consciousness’, there are no ethical implications..."

    I agree. At this point we don't know whether artificial consciousness is possible or if it would count as real consciousness with ethical implications. I personally don't know how real feelings and emotions in the human sense could be created artificially.

    A commenter said "Trying to give a robot personality is stupid. People want sex from a sexbot". While there certainly would be people interested in a fetish of robot sex, generally speaking, machines are not sexy unless made to look sexy or sound sexy. So, either we are anthropomorphizing machines to look and sound human or there is a fetish for mechanical sex (sex with machines that look like machines) which would be two totally different things.

  • Joe Public

    Fascinating discussion. I think the questions raised are the tip of the iceberg, though, in terms of what the implications for this kind of technology actually is. Ethical questions aside, my first thoughts regarding any new technology are usually questions about what could go wrong with it. I'm an engineering type thinker. In this case, my first question was - "How could this technology be abused in the wrong hands?" A score of potential issues came to mind. LIke any technology it can be used for good or ill. But with sexbots, my tendency is to suspect that ill usage will have a higher percent chance of manifestation than usual. Thoughts?

  • Slaw76

    Is this a parody of stupid Leftists? Hint to the authoress: there are sex roles and, no matter how many hysterical temper-tantrums you have, those sex roles will continue because they're based in biology.

  • kurt9

    Is this a part of Tyrell Corporation? Perhaps they will have a line of replicants out by 2019.

  • Days of Broken Arrows

    "A vibrator is an individual’s device that can be shared..." So can Schick Razors for Women or tampons, which men can use as napkins if they have to. But as usual, feminists stretch the truth. Vibrators and dildos are market almost exclusively to women. Sexbots will be for men. The New Nuns, like the old ones, see that as "sinful" except they have new jargon to explain that, supposedly more enlightened than the old biblical-speak. But it's the same message.

  • Grandpa Jones

    As soon as these robot's AI's are sufficiently advanced, they'll want to dump betas and date alphas, too.

    • PPXXX

      I think they'll be amused by people who think they're "alphas".

      • Apollyon

        I suspect AI will be more observant of human nature than you.

        • PPXXX

          Than all of us.

    • Donna Domme

      You are implying that nice robots finish last. And the creation of the robotic friend zone.

  • PeterAndrewNolan

    "we risk alienating ourselves from each other all over again."

    Oh, you mean stealing our children, stealing our houses, and destroying our lives was not enough alienation already? Hhmm?

  • Tomas Pajaros

    thoughts . .

    - I just want one so I can put in passenger seat and drive in the commuter lane.
    - being the Roxxy voice would look great on a resume or facebook
    - with non-human alternatives, everyone will have to sharpen their game to be attractive to a special somebody. Those who can't will have an outlet at least. Might be a BIG hit in the Arab world, where the rich dudes get 4-8 wives and the poor guys go without.

  • Apollyon

    Women's power will diminish. As realistic sexbots become closer to reality, expect shrill, hysterical female resistance to increase.

    • Donna Domme

      the same logic applies to effective birth control pills for men.

  • Burn Ender

    Ha ha ha ha.. Women are scared that they won't be able to leverage their vagina to get men to be utilities in the future.

    But hey, enjoy being the walkman of the 1980's.

  • Donna Domme

    Further a sexbot will not get pregnant.
    Something not mentioned in the essay.

  • Fraga123

    My ex-wife was like a sex bot.

    A broken one that was stored in the fridge.