An expert on the psychology of sex has claimed that not only does she expect having sex with robots to be socially acceptable by 2070, but it may be more popular than intercourse with other humans.
While the notion has dystopian elements, Dr Helen Driscoll of the University of Sunderland said that any stigma attached to robophilia could quickly dissipate.
“We tend to think about issues such as virtual reality and robotic sex within the context of current norms,” she told The Mirror.
"But if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically.”
Given that robots could theoretically be programmed to be ‘down for whatever’ and perform an infinite number of positions and experiences, it is very conceivable that sex with robots will become the most popular kind of sex.
“As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner; it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being,” Dr Driscoll added, “People may also begin to fall in love with their virtual reality partners.”
The impending trend is the subject of a lot of fiction being made of late, including the films Her and Ex Machina and the Channel 4 TV series Humans, which tend to focus on the negatives.
“This may seem shocking and unusual now, but we should not automatically assume that virtual relationships have less value than real relationships,” Dr Driscoll said. “The fact is, people already fall in love with fictional characters though there is no chance to meet and interact with them.”
The idea of humans spending their time in virtual environments interacting with virtual people might seem psychologically problematic, but if the technology is perfected, Dr Driscoll sees no reason why forming a relationship with a robot should be any different to forming one with a human.
“Currently the lack of human contact could be harmful. Humans are naturally sociable and a lack of human contact could lead to loneliness which is linked to various mental and physical health problems,” she said.
"But, in the long term, technology may overcome these problems.
"When eventually there are intelligent robots indistinguishable from humans - apart from their lack of bad habits, imperfections and need for investment - not only are we likely to choose them over 'real' humans but psychologically we will not suffer if we are not able to tell the difference.”
A couple of weeks ago a robot passed the self-awareness test, while last year a super-computer became the first to pass the Turing Test - convincing humans it was also a human.
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